The molecular roots of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as asthma, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis (MS) have been discovered by a team of researchers led by The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. They say their findings may point to ways to effectively treat these diseases - if not stop them before they start.
In a lead article in the November issue of Nature Immunology (released online on Oct. 2), the scientists report finding a novel type of "T helper" cell they say is the culprit for initiating chronic inflammation and autoimmunity in a variety of body tissues. This newly described T cell - which they call inflammatory TH cells (or THi) - produces interleukin 17 (IL-17), a potent cytokine that researchers have already linked to an immune system gone awry.
"We suspected that IL-17 is a player in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, but we didnt understand where IL-17 came from before this finding," says the studys lead investigator, Chen Dong, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Immunology.
Nancy Jensen | EurekAlert!
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