Why we can’t use LTTs, yet

A line of T cells (called Ob.2F3) expressing the same T cell receptor (TCR) from an MS patient was studied in 2014 and it was found to proliferate when incubated with 4824 different peptides. Thirty-three of them were further studied (see figure) and found to belong to both Homo sapiens and several different, unrelated microbes (Birnbaum ME et al. 2014). The taking home message here is that T cells are not specific to a single pathogen, they are highly cross-reactive, as it was already pointed out in this pivotal study: (Mason DA 1998). And this means that we can’t use lymphocyte transformation tests (LTTs) the way we do now. 

I feel really frustrated when patients send me their LTTs and ask me to comment the results. I have to say that they have vasted their money and that these results are useless. I do hope that my blog can make a difference and stop this unfair commerce at the expenses of desperate folks.

Crossreactive epitopes
Figure. A set of 33 peptides (both human and environmental) predicted to be specific epitopes for both Ob.1A12 and Ob.2F3. From (Birnbaum ME et al. 2014).

 


 

 

 

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The dark matter of medicine

Most of the mass of the universe consists of dark matter. And we can recognize its existence only indirectly: we see its gravitational effects, the acceleration of other known constituents of the universe. In the same way, we know of the existence of ME/CFS mainly form its effects: huge damages in the lives of patients affected.

Physicists are now trying to identify the exact nature of dark matter and they are excited by this new field. Unfortunately, physicians don’t always share the same excitement when it comes to investigating the “dark matter of medicine”.