What is an Alpha Heavy Chain Disease?
Alpha heavy chain disease is a plasma cell cancer characterized by incomplete production of antibodies with overproduction of heavy chains without associated light chains. The clinical characteristics of the disease are diarrhoea and malabsorption.
What are Antibodies and Their Structure?
An antibody is a large Y-shaped protein that is produced by the immune system of the body in response to the entry of certain foreign disease-causing objects such as viruses, bacteria, or any other microorganisms in the body. These antibodies fight against these foreign disease-causing agents and neutralize them. The antibody is a Y-shaped structure and consists of two-light and two-heavy polypeptide chains. Polypeptide chains are consisting of several amino acids. An amino acid is a basic building unit of protein.
Disease Etiology (Causes)
There is no exact-well-known cause, however, there is an association between the alpha-HCD and immunoproliferative small intestinal disease.
It is distributed in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East / Mediterranean. It is also common in populations with poor sanitation. It is a rare disease, with 400 cases reported worldwide to date. It usually affects young people, whose average age ranges from 20-30 years.
Signs and Symptoms
The patient may suffer from the following signs and symptoms. These are
- Abdominal Pain or discomfort
- Weight loss
- Intestinal worm infestation
The following diagnostic techniques and procedures can be used to make a diagnosis. These are
- Serum test for the detection of antibodies
- UCE (urine complete examination)
- Stool analysis
Prescribing drugs such as anthelmintics and antibiotics to kill worms, bacteria, and viruses is the initial treatment. In advanced cases, chemotherapy and surgical resection (surgical removal of a tumor or part of the disease along with some healthy surrounding tissue and reuniting the rest of the organ to preserve its function) of the tumor (s) are treatment options.
What Support can we Give for Alpha Heavy Chain Disease?
Alpha Heavy Chain Disease is a rare cancer, meaning it is not as well known as other forms of cancer. Without a Ribbon is an Australian organisation that provides support for individuals who suffer from rare cancers. So, we provide a designated platform for Warriors to obtain information specific to their Rare Cancer. We also provide annual opportunities for our Warriors to meet and learn from each other. If you suffer from rare cancer such as Alpha Heavy Chain Disease we can help and support you through your journey thanks to the generous donations we receive. Click the link below to sign up and become a Warrior today!
You can help us with your donation:
Without a Ribbon is a charity that works hard to aid those who suffer from rare cancers. You can help our cause in a variety of ways: