Coping with cold - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Coping with cold

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Madison (WKOW) -- No matter where you live or visit, you'll encounter cool breezes, seasonal changes, and air conditioning.

  For most of us, cool temperature shifts are no big deal, but those cold exposures are enough to make one group of people really sick.

  Not long ago, sitting in front of an air conditioner would have sent a shiver down Marina Binichis' spine.

  Marina has an unusual disorder that causes flu-like symptoms when she's exposed to the cold.

  She said, "as the day would progress it would get worse, I would get more tired. Typically towards the latter part of the day, after work, I would come home and the chills and the shivers would start."

  It took decades before doctors diagnosed Marina with a condition called CAPS.

  Dr. Hal Hoffman said, "CAPS stands for cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome."

  CAPS is part of a family of disorders, all connected by sensitivity to cold.

  Dr. Hoffman added, "it's an example of how our body's immune system is somehow activated by something physical, like temperature."

  Dr. Hoffman analyzed DNA samples from caps patients, and found a mutated gene that triggers the release of interleukin-1 a fever inducer.

  "So now these patients have symptoms that they would normally have if they have an infection or some other kind of inflammatory response, but without the infection," said Dr. Hoffman.

  A drug to stop the flu-like, "icy fire" reaction was found in an existing rheumatoid arthritis medication.

  Dr. Hoffman said, "what it does it actually traps interleukin-1 and keeps it from having all of its negative side effects."

  A once a week shot has made Marina's life a breeze...

  Or at least she's able to tolerate one.

  Marina said, "it's, it's changed my life. It's, it's incredible. I feel like a normal person."

  And it allows her to enjoy life in all seasons.

  Dr. Hoffman says understanding how interleukin-1 affects the immune system can be applied to other inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, and could mean new treatments to block that immune system over-reaction.

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