Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Major Step Toward A More Targeted Treatment For Auto-immune Diseases?

Date:
January 28, 2008
Source:
Flanders Institute for Biotechnology
Summary:
More and more people in Western society are suffering from auto-immune diseases. Discovering the cause of these chronic inflammations is a first important step in the search for targeted medicines. Researchers can now describe the function of MALT1, a key player in controlling inflammatory reactions.

More and more people in Western society are suffering from auto-immune diseases. Discovering the cause of these chronic inflammations is a first important step in the search for targeted medicines. VIB researchers connected to Ghent University and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven joined forces and have elucidated the function of MALT1, a key player in controlling inflammatory reactions. They are the first to show that MALT1 is able to cleave the A20 protein, which inhibits inflammation.

Scientists hope that by counteracting MALT1 they will be able to restore the body's natural inhibition of inflammation and thus provide an alternative for treatments that tax the immune system. This would represent a profound improvement over current medicines.

Raging out of control?

Inflammations are our normal protective reactions against infections -- they rise to help remove pathogenic organisms from our bodies. This immune response is very precise and is only possible after a complex cascade of signals. Sometimes something goes wrong in this chain of reactions, and the inflammation process becomes uncontrolled or even triggers undesired immune responses against the body's own substances. This can lead to auto-immune diseases such as rheumatism, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis, and, in some cases, to cancer. Reining in the runaway immune system is the most obvious remedy for these kinds of diseases. But the major challenge is to do this in such a way that the immune system continues to perform its protective role. And this requires a thorough understanding of the entire process.

Proteins with a crucial function

It has long been known that the MALT1 protein plays an important role in initiating inflammation reactions. That's why VIB researchers Beatrice Coornaert (UGent), Rudi Beyaert (UGent), Thijs Baens (K.U.Leuven) and Peter Marynen (K.U.Leuven) set out to discover exactly what its particular role is. They have now succeeded in showing that MALT1 cuts the A20 protein into pieces. They are in fact the first to find that MALT1 is a protease (a protein that cleaves other proteins) and that A20 is the protein that is cut. In normal circumstances, A20 inhibits inflammatory reactions; and, by cleaving A20, MALT1 counteracts this inhibition, allowing the inflammation to progress freely. So, both proteins play very important parts in fine-tuning the intensity of inflammatory reactions.

Prospects for new treatments

Through their research, the VIB scientists are shedding light on an important part of the process that controls our immune response. Their findings offer possibilities for the development of new medicines that counteract MALT1 and thereby restore the natural 'brake' on the inflammation process. In this way, scientists hope to be able to provide an alternative for treatments that undermine the immune system. In addition, they hope to be able to apply this knowledge to the typical immunoreactions toward organ transplants or the treatment of cancer that is caused by genetic defects in MALT1, such as MALT lymphoma.

Joining forces

This research clearly shows the added value of combining expertise from different research groups. These important discoveries are the result of a close collaboration between researchers from the VIB Department for Molecular Biomedical Research (UGent) and the VIB Department of Molecular and Developmental Genetics.

This research will be published in the journal Nature Immunology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Flanders Institute for Biotechnology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Flanders Institute for Biotechnology. "Major Step Toward A More Targeted Treatment For Auto-immune Diseases?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080127130924.htm>.
Flanders Institute for Biotechnology. (2008, January 28). Major Step Toward A More Targeted Treatment For Auto-immune Diseases?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080127130924.htm
Flanders Institute for Biotechnology. "Major Step Toward A More Targeted Treatment For Auto-immune Diseases?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080127130924.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins