Autoimmunity Patients Face Cost, Diagnosis, Care Challenges

Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system becomes dysfunctional and begins attacking healthy tissue and organs. More than 20 million Americans suffer from a myriad of autoimmune diseases, such as thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, that can significantly impact their quality of life.

Many autoimmune patients often have to deal with years of misdiagnosis and untreated symptoms before they finally receive a proper diagnosis.

Since a majority of autoimmune diseases have no cure, patients such as Beth VanOrden from Athens, Texas, have to take various medications to manage symptoms for the rest of their lives. VanOrden suffers from Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that results in a condition called hypothyroidism, which impacts the production of metabolic hormones in the body.

She and the millions of Americans who suffer from the autoimmune disorder take a commonly prescribed synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine to manage symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, sensitivity to cold and hair loss. VanOrden spent several years dealing with extreme bouts of fatigue before she was diagnosed, but receiving a proper diagnosis simply opened the door to more problems.

While many patients respond to the medication positively and often see their symptoms resolve, a minority of patients, including VanOrden, do not gain any relief from the often-prescribed drug. This has forced VanOrden to spend around $5,000 per year visiting different doctors and taking various tests and medications to find an effective treatment. The 38-year-old explains that although she looks and acts energetic, her symptoms are largely invisible and can be exacerbated by high stress levels.

There are millions of other Americans suffering from one of more than 80 autoimmune diseases who face diagnosis, cost and healthcare challenges. And since nearly 80% of all autoimmune patients in the country are female, women are overwhelmingly represented in the group of autoimmune patients who, like VanOrden, spend years and up to tens of thousands of dollars seeking effective treatment.

With many of them jumping from doctor to doctor and trying one treatment after another to find success, these treatment costs can add up rapidly, causing American patients to spend more than $100 billion per year treating autoimmune diseases.

According to Dr. Sam Lim, the clinical director of Emory University’s School of Medicine in Atlanta, receiving a proper diagnosis is a “major hurdle” for many autoimmune disease patients because their symptoms often overlap with other conditions.

As enterprises such as Scinai Immunotherapeutics Ltd. (NASDAQ: SCNI) make progress in their R&D programs, effective immunotherapy treatments for autoimmune diseases could become readily available to the patients who need them.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Scinai Immunotherapeutics Ltd. (NASDAQ: SCNI) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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