Great progress: How researchers want to cure rheumatism with a new method

A wolf led Mirko Häse to the Berlin Charité.

Great progress: How researchers want to cure rheumatism with a new method

A wolf led Mirko Häse to the Berlin Charité. That's the name of the disease that threatens the 46-year-old's life: systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus is Latin for wolf. The name probably comes from the fact that the marks that this disease can leave on the skin used to remind people of the scar from a wolf bite.

The wolf is treacherous: Three years ago, Häse's body began to recognize an enemy within itself. The patient had no chance of escaping the suffering and the associated pain. The reason for the outbreak of his illness is probably a gene mutation, which is triggered by a viral infection.

"Systemic lupus causes the immune system to see invaders in the dead cells of its own body. It tries to destroy them with an inflammatory reaction," says Gerhard Krönke, head of rheumatology and clinical immunology at the Charité, which also involves people Autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus are treated.

It is a dangerous battle that the immune system is waging, because the harder it tries to defeat the supposed enemy, the more greedily the disease spreads. Lupus attacks muscles, joints, the nervous system and, in severe cases, organs, sometimes the heart, often the kidneys. “If the kidneys are affected, it becomes serious,” says Krönke. "In the past, such people often had worse prognoses than cancer patients." Mirko Häse's illness also caused chronic kidney inflammation.

The field of immunology has now developed numerous medications, so-called biologics, that suppress the immune system's barrage of fire against the body. But the patient Häse's immune cells keep going on the offensive despite the medication; They achieve breakthroughs that can only be stopped with high doses of cortisone. The disease pitilessly turns the body against itself. A cure? For a long time it was considered impossible.

But research has made great progress in recent years.

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