Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A major step toward a more targeted treatment for auto-immune diseases?

28.01.2008
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. Their research will be published in the authoritative journal Nature Immunology.

Raging out of control?

Inflammations are our normal protective reactions against infections - they arise 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 (K.U.Leuven).

Sooike Stoops | alfa
Further information:
http://www.vib.be

Further reports about: A20 Leuven Malt1 Treatment auto-immune immune system inflammation reactions

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ambush in a petri dish
24.11.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon
23.11.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New proton record: Researchers measure magnetic moment with greatest possible precision

High-precision measurement of the g-factor eleven times more precise than before / Results indicate a strong similarity between protons and antiprotons

The magnetic moment of an individual proton is inconceivably small, but can still be quantified. The basis for undertaking this measurement was laid over ten...

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

IceCube experiment finds Earth can block high-energy particles from nuclear reactions

24.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 'half-hearted' solution to one-sided heart failure

24.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

Heidelberg Researchers Study Unique Underwater Stalactites

24.11.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>