The latest research on Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition where the peripheral nervous system is attacked by the body's own immune system, involves refining treatments that already exist, seeking out new treatments and investigating the immune system to find the cells that begin the attack, according to the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This research is being done collaboratively by scientists from several disciplines, including immunologists, pharmacologists, neurological scientists and virologists.
Researchers are looking at ways that the immune system may be activated incorrectly, by certain features of viruses or bacteria, to attack the nervous system. This possibility is suggested by the fact that Guillain-Barre syndrome starts in many people after they contract a viral or bacterial infection.
Guillain-Barre syndrome is incurable, but there are presently several therapies in use to alleviate the condition's severity. These include plasmapheresis, otherwise known as plasma exchange, and high-dose immunoglobulin therapy, which involves injection of large doses of immunoglobulins, the proteins the immune system naturally uses to fight invaders. Research suggests that these high doses weaken the attack on the nervous system by the immune system. During these treatments, it is essential to keep the patient's body functioning normally. This is ensured by monitoring the heart and sometimes using a ventilator or other devices to help maintain bodily functions.