Study Offers Insights on Why Autoimmune Conditions Disproportionately Afflict Women

Autoimmune illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, scleroderma and psoriasis, usually cause an individual’s immune system to attack normal cells. Recent research has observed annual increases in overall incidence and prevalence of autoimmune illnesses. As of 2024, these figures stood at 19% and 12% respectively.

Prior research has also found that a significant number of women, as compared to men, suffer from autoimmune illnesses. It is estimated that four out of every five patients with these illnesses are women.

For the longest time, researchers could not explain this phenomenon, until now. New research has found an explanation for why more women develop autoimmune illnesses. The study, led by Stanford University researchers, has linked this vulnerability to autoimmune illnesses to the two X chromosomes in women.

According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, chromosomes are structures comprised of DNA and proteins. They are found in the nucleus of a cell and carry important information. In mammals, the biological sex of an offspring is determined by these structures. Both males and females have two chromosomes. However, unlike females who have two X chromosomes, males have one X and one Y chromosome.

The researchers theorize that the presence of two X chromosomes increases the risk of protein overproduction. One molecule, dubbed Xist, plays an essential role in preventing overproduction by inactivating one of the two chromosomes found in women. In their research, the scientists determined that Xist also gives rise to peculiar molecular combinations that could cause an autoimmune response.

They used male laboratory mice in their study, observing how Xist worked. They began by introducing a modified Xist gene that wouldn’t suppress the X chromosome in the male mice. They then tested this in strains that were susceptible to autoimmune symptoms and those that weren’t.

They observed that when they introduced an irritant known to give rise to a lupus-like illness in the mice, the vulnerable mice developed autoimmunity at a rate akin to that of the female mice. This, they noted, suggests that genetics, as well as Xist, play a role in autoimmunity development.

The scientists hope that their research will aid in the future detection of autoimmune illnesses and help develop better treatments. The study’s findings were reported in the “Cell” journal.

Researchers involved in the study included Yanding Zhao, Diana R. Dou, Ceke Hellström, Julia A. Belk, Yang Zhao, Ami A. Shah, Kerriann M. Casey, Lorinda S. Chung, Derek C. Chen, Emma K. Lundberg, Rui Li, Suhas Srinivasan, Bingfei Yu, Sarah Chang, Ronald Sjöberg, Michelle Petri, Howard Y. Chang, Katerina Kraft, Brian T. Abe, Paul J. Utz, Allan Feng, David F. Fiorentino, Daniel W. Goldman and Anton Wutz.

These findings could help various entities such as Scinai Immunotherapeutics Ltd. (NASDAQ: SCNI) explore more options in their bid to develop novel immunotherapies targeting different autoimmune conditions taking a toll on the well-being and finances of patients around the world.

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

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