Alopecia Areata

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Alopecia Areata

Postby lorenzmiguel » Mon Oct 15, 2012 10:10 am

Would a substance given to suppress the immune system for organ transplants help treat Alopecia Areata? I'm interested in this because I myself have Alopecia Areata and would like to learn more about it and maybe learn more about what I can do and how to inform others with it.
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Project Question: what are some known attempted treatments for alopecia areata, and what would be some things that have not been attempted
Project Due Date: October 30, 2012
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Alopecia Areata

Postby heatherL » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:58 am

Hi lorenzmiguel,

What an interesting question! I do not know a lot about Alopecia Areata, but it appears that topical immunotherapy (immune suppressants applied to the skin) is one treatment course.

Here are some web pages with more detailed information:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002421/
http://www.naaf.org/site/PageServer?pag ... ev_Program
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alopecia_areata#Treatment
http://www.aad.org/skin-conditions/derm ... -treatment

I do not think that you would use the same immunosuppressant drugs for alopecia as you would for organ transplants. The reason I say that is because organ transplants would require a system-wide level of immune suppression, whereas the treatment for alopecia can be localized to the affected area. When possible, it is best to minimize suppression of the immune system so that you are not susceptible to pathogens (organisms causing other illnesses).

Here is the Wikipedia page about immunosuppressant drugs: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immunosuppressant_drugs

I hope this helps you get started. Please post again if you have more questions!

Heather
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Re: Alopecia Areata

Postby lorenzmiguel » Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:01 pm

thank you so much maam, and yes I know about some of the topical immunotherapies as I have alopecia areata myself and am currently going through some. I'll go through those sites, but one other question I have is what would be a testable experiment if I what I wanted to do was to test an immunosuppressant other than known treatments for Alopecia Areata?
lorenzmiguel
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:11 am
Occupation: student
Project Question: what are some known attempted treatments for alopecia areata, and what would be some things that have not been attempted
Project Due Date: October 30, 2012
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Alopecia Areata

Postby heatherL » Sat Oct 20, 2012 10:35 am

Hi lorenzmiguel,

You have an excellent question! The only way I can think of experimentally testing a drug is through clinical trials, which is beyond the scope of a science fair project. There are strict regulations on the use of human subjects (or even animal subjects) for drug testing, and the only likely way to get involved with something like that is through a research or university laboratory.

There might be a way to test the effects of different drugs on particular enzymes, but again that would likely require a professional laboratory setting.

Meanwhile, I have found a Science Buddies project idea that might fit your interests: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... p006.shtml

Here is a way that you can make it your own and possibly see how different drugs could affect you: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... p005.shtml

I hope this helps. Please keep me posted with your progress!

Heather
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Re: Alopecia Areata

Postby lorenzmiguel » Tue Oct 23, 2012 10:12 am

Thank you, after doing some research we found that there was a ULBP3 gene related in alopecia areata. Would there be anything we could do with that gene or any others for a testable experiment? Regarding the enzymes you spoke of, we would have to find a particular enzyme in the hair folicle with alopecia areata and work with active ingredients of a certain drug?
lorenzmiguel
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:11 am
Occupation: student
Project Question: what are some known attempted treatments for alopecia areata, and what would be some things that have not been attempted
Project Due Date: October 30, 2012
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Alopecia Areata

Postby heatherL » Wed Oct 24, 2012 6:56 am

Hi lorenzmiguel,

Nice job with the research! The ULBP3 gene codes for a protein called NKG2D ligand 3. This might be a protein you could try to target with a drug.

Here is a Science Buddies project regarding drug targeting: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... ml#summary. Look through the project, especially the "Make It Your Own" section (http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... eityourown. Perhaps you could do something similar with the ULBP3 gene and its NKG2D ligand 3 protein product.

Let me know if this sounds good!

Heather
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Re: Alopecia Areata

Postby lorenzmiguel » Thu Oct 25, 2012 1:46 pm

Hi Heather,

Considering that we aren't able to test subjects, how would we be able to test the drug on the protein without testing a subject? Because of the limited options we have on this topic, My partner and I have now looked into the relationship between allergies and autoimmune diseases. Would there be a testable experiment to test an antihistamine on AA, but if not AA then maybe another protein found in another autoimmune disease with a similar amino acid sequence?

Thank you for all your help!

Lorenz and Amanda
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Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:11 am
Occupation: student
Project Question: what are some known attempted treatments for alopecia areata, and what would be some things that have not been attempted
Project Due Date: October 30, 2012
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Alopecia Areata

Postby heatherL » Sat Oct 27, 2012 2:59 pm

Hi Lorenz and Amanda,

I am glad you are sticking with your interests. We will find something you can do!

I think you options will be greater if you locate a mentor at a research or university laboratory. Here is the Science Buddies information about ways to find a mentor: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... tors.shtml

I am thinking you'll want to do a protein binding assay in the laboratory, which is why I suggested you look for a mentor with a research laboratory. You'll want to find someone who does research in a similar field. Scientists in pharmacology labs or cell biology labs may be of help to you.

There is definitely a way for you to measure the degree to which a drug binds to a particular protein in vitro (in the laboratory, rather than in the living organism). You can try looking up "protein binding assays" on the internet, and start looking for a mentor who can help you with the laboratory procedures.

I hope this helps. Please keep me posted, and let me know if you need more help.

Heather
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Re: Alopecia Areata

Postby lorenzmiguel » Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:16 am

Hi Heather,

So due to the limited time we had my partner and I finally decided that we would just experiment on the gene related to Alopecia Areata. We will PCR my DNA and my parents' DNA and have them sequenced searching for the relation of AA and genetics. What would be a good resource to look for genes that could be related to AA? and where could we find a research the PCR process to refresh our memory of the procedure?
lorenzmiguel
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:11 am
Occupation: student
Project Question: what are some known attempted treatments for alopecia areata, and what would be some things that have not been attempted
Project Due Date: October 30, 2012
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Alopecia Areata

Postby heatherL » Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:44 pm

Hi lorenzmiguel,

You make the process sound a lot simpler than it is! While it is fairly easy to conduct PCR, you need to find the right primers (bits of DNA to get the process started), and you'll need the chemicals and a thermocycler. Do you have access to these materials at your school? Try doing an internet search for "PCR protocol," which will give you access to many online protocols. Here is one: http://www.mcdb.lsa.umich.edu/labs/madd ... tocol.html

When you do PCR, you do not usually copy the entire genome. You pick your primers to target a specific area of the DNA to copy (which should contain your gene of interest). Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, and it is not yet known which gene or genes are responsible for alopecia areata. There are several candidate genes, including the ULBP3 gene, but we do not yet know the exact cause of the disease. Here is a scientific article that found several candidate genes for alopecia areata: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785354/

Once you do PCR, performing sequencing of the DNA is a much more complicated (and usually expensive) process, especially without the help of a research lab. I do not want to discourage you, but if you are working with limited resources and time, I do not think that gene sequencing is the way to go.

One way to examine the heredity of a trait is to construct a pedigree. This would require the full participation of family members, but you could try to see whether your condition has shown up anywhere else in your family tree, which would support the idea that it is inherited. Check out this Science Buddies project to help you get started with the idea of pedigrees: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... ml#summary

Let me know if this sounds interesting to you, or if you want to try another option. We will find something that works for you!

Heather
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