Winter 2024 Update from Stanford’s Immune Behavioral Health Research Program

Exciting Update from Stanford’s Immune Behavioral Health Research Program which is expanding understanding of PANS, uncovering links between infections, inflammation, and psychiatric symptoms. Their dedication is transforming lives, enabling groundbreaking research, and shaping the future of PANS care by redefining standards, advocating for change, and fostering the next generation of PANS researchers.

Dr. Masterson outlines the clinical course of PANS, aiming to determine why some patients fully recover while others continue to have residual symptoms post-treatment so they can help develop treatment strategies that consider risk factors for relapse. Dr. Frankovich discovered that 30% of the clinic’s patients develop arthritis, and treating it helps alleviate their psychiatric symptoms. These findings shed light on potential connections between joint inflammation and the blood-brain barrier, which can help refine treatments. Dr. Mondal investigates how plasma from PANS patients increases the blood-brain barrier permeability. Dr. Tang continues to advocate for insurance coverage of treatments.

The future of PANS research centers on comprehensive exploration at both molecular & genetic levels. Dr. Prestwood is identifying autoantibodies affecting brain metabotropic receptors like dopamine & adrenaline while examining autoantibody patterns related to infectious exposures that may connect with other autoimmune conditions. Noelle Schlenk investigates PANS at the genetic level by utilizing whole-exome sequencing data. She explores how genetic variation in the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) may contribute to PANS, presenting one of the 1st genetic studies linking PANS to the immune system. The groundbreaking PANS Illuminate project integrates novel research with decades of data from 251 patients to investigate biological mechanisms for lasting remission. They will examine samples throughout the disease progression, from the initial flare to optimal remission and recent flare, and will elucidate the evolution of immune responses compared to healthy controls.

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