1 on the epidemiology of autoimmune diseases, perhaps the most detailed publication on the topic so far. That report shows that in the more common conditions, such as MS, the imbalance tilts so that affected patients are roughly two-thirds female. "In some diseases, however, the degree of disproportion is very extreme," Cooper says. For example, at least 85% of patients with thyroiditis, systemic sclerosis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and Sjögren disease are female. In data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 1995, well-defined autoimmune diseases were one of the top-10 causes of death for women under the age of 65 years.2

The struggle to track these diseases matches the pharmaceutical industry's failure to treat them. For example, drugs for rheumatoid arthritis evolved from injectable gold in the 1930s to biologics today, but treatment results remain mediocre. According to Anthony Manning, vice president and global head of inflammation,...

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