Behcet's Disease Research
The goals of Behcet's disease research studies are to determine the causes and find out if new approaches are safe and effective. Behcet's disease research scientists are exploring possible genetic, bacterial, and viral causes of the disease, as well as improved drug treatment. People who participate in Behcet's disease research studies have the first chance to benefit from promising treatments.
Doctors and scientists are hard at work conducting Behcet's disease research. Behcet's disease research studies are designed to answer important questions and find out if new approaches are safe and effective. Behcet's disease research has already led to many advances, and researchers continue to search for more effective methods of dealing with the disease.
Behcet's disease research scientists are exploring possible genetic, bacterial, and viral causes of Behcet's disease, as well as improved drug treatment. For example, genetic studies show a strong association of the gene HLA-B51 with the disease, but the exact role of this gene in the development of Behcet's is uncertain. Researchers hope to identify genes that increase a person's risk for developing the condition. Studies of these genes, and how they work, may provide new understanding of the disease, and possibly new treatments.
Behcet's disease research scientists are also investigating factors in the environment, such as bacteria or viruses, that may trigger Behcet's disease. They are particularly interested in whether Streptococcus, the bacterium that causes strep throat, is associated with Behcet's disease. Many people with Behcet's disease have had several strep infections. In addition, researchers suspect that herpesvirus type 1 (a virus that causes cold sores) may be associated with Behcet's disease.
Finally, researchers are identifying medicines to better treat Behcet's disease. TNF inhibitors are a class of drugs that reduce joint inflammation by blocking the action of a substance called the tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Although serious side effects have been reported from TNF inhibitors, these drugs have shown some promise in treating Behcet's disease. Examples of TNF inhibitors include:
Interferon alpha, a protein that helps fight infection, has also shown promise in treating Behcet's disease. Thalidomide, which is believed to be a TNF inhibitor, appears to be effective in treating severe mouth sores, but its use is experimental, and side effects are a concern. Thalidomide is not used to treat women of childbearing age, because it can cause severe birth defects.