The hardest diseases to treat are those that are considered autoimmune diseases. These diseases are caused by our immune system’s inability to recognize friend from foe from within. There are three basics characteristics that define an autoimmune disease. First there is destruction or damage to tissues. Secondly there is altered organ growth followed lastly by the inability for organs to function properly. Prescription drugs such as Remicade (#remicade), were designed to try to correct the problem.
How The Immune System Works
Before science developed prescription drugs, an understanding of the process by which the immune system worked and malfunctioned needed to happen. I will provide a general understanding of how the immune system works. The immune system produces white blood cells called T-cells and B-cells. Both types of cells react to foreign proteins in the human body called antigens. Along with these antigen are human proteins needed everyday to build and repair cells in your body. These white blood cells detect these proteins but don’t react to them with the help of regulatory cells which basically tells them to stand down. The danger comes when these regulatory cells don’t tell the T-cells and B-cells to stand down.
If for example a bacterial infection occurs, and the proteins in the bacteria are similar to the proteins found in your skeleton, an immune response will be initiated. If there isn’t a stop command given, your own immune system will attack your own skeleton. The process is not fully understood of why the stop command doesn’t activate which is why it’s classified as an autoimmune disease. This is one of the many theories as to how an autoimmune disease state arise which affects a portion of the population and are often chronic, debilitating, and life-threatening.
What Is Remicade?
Remicade is also known as Infliximab. Its is a chimeric monoclonal antibody biologic. Before I lose you, I will explain what it means. In simple terms, it is a laboratory made antibody (protein) which targets the immune system to help turn itself off. This protein is made from mice but engineered with human antibodies to prevent rejection. This protein targets the tumor necrosis factor alpha protein (TNF). TNF is known for regulating the immune system, inducing fever, cell death and most types of inflammation. By introducing this man-made stop signal, the body can revert back to its normal defense state.
Remicade does not come in the form of a prescription pill but rather it has to be applied by intravenous (IV) infusion. It turns out that digesting the drug would actually destroy it. Remicade infusion have been approved for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and rhematoid arthritis. Remicade infusions are also not cheap and the remicade cost can run up to $30,000 per year. Autoimmune diseases aren’t curable but rather can be maintained. It would depend on what quality of life you would like to have.
Side Effects Of Remicade
For the good that is possible, there are also Remicade side effects to consider. First there is the possibility of rejection when using this drug since it does have some mouse components. Not every patient will react positively to it. There are also life-threatening side effects when used with TNF inhibiting immuno suppressants such as Enbrel and Humira. These side effects include serious infections, reactivation of Hepatitis B and tuberculosis, lethal T-cell lymphoma, central nervous system disorders and drug induced lupus. External side effects include psoriasis, severe skin lesions and viitiligo (loss of skin color in blotches).
An important factor when using this drug is to keep on eye on white blood cell counts. It is not unfounded to have low counts for some patients when using this medication. The FDA issued a warning to doctors about an increased risk of lymphoma and other cancers associated with the use of infliximab in children and adolescents. All other drugs of this type should be treated the same way. It is important to note that following the advice of your doctor on when to use it is important. The human body is impressive in its ability to adapt to medications and become immune to them. Such a case can occur if Remicade is used improperly.
Are you having positive effects using Remicade?