Linda Finger suffers from a number of disorders that are linked to autoimmune disease.
“I have lupus, systemic lupus erythematosus and vasculitis and autonomic neuropathy, amongst other things.”
She says the disorders have caused all sorts of problems.
“I’ve had just about every organ in my body involved. From my brain to my stomach and colon, my skin, my kidneys. Just about everything.”
Finger is not alone. Autoimmune diseases affect an estimated twenty-three to fifty million people in the US alone. According to the National Institute of Health, women are three times more susceptible to autoimmune diseases than men. John Reveille is the professor and director of the division of rheumatology at the Health Science Center. He describes the disease this way:
“Autoimmunity is a situation where your immune system gets a little mixed up and starts attacking the tissues of your body, thinking that they’re some kind of external bug or something. And in doing so causing a great deal of damage such as arthritis, skin rashes, kidney disease and lung disease.”
In an effort to further understand and treat this growing health problem, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston revealed plans to open a Center for Autoimmunity and Immunobiology next year. It’s the first facility of its kind in Texas and will feature five disease focused clinics. Frank Arnett is a professor of internal medicine at the Health Science Center.
There will be centers that take care of such patients as well as perform the research studies to test out new therapies and new diagnostic tests to help people with these diseases.
The 65-hundred square foot facility is slated to open in the new year at the medical center.
From the KUHF NewsLab, I’m Wendy Siegle