Cases of autoimmune disease have risen in recent years but because it is frequently invisible and only fairly recently has there been a big effort to increase awareness of the condition (or, rather, multiple conditions), many sufferers have spent years of doctors’ trips and hospital visits before receiving a diagnosis. As one patient describes it in The New Yorker, “I got sick the way Hemingway says you go broke: ‘gradually and then suddenly.'”
There is, however, good reason to remain optimistic. A team of researchers from Yale University may have found the underlying cause as well as promising methods of treating the illness.
The paper, published in the journal Science, has linked autoimmune reactions to a bacteria in the gut called Enterococcus gallinarum. An autoimmune response, they say, can be triggered when the bacterium spontaneously migrates from the gut to other organs in the body, such as the spleen, liver, and lymph nodes.