When the body thinks it is under attack, it defends itself in the best way possible, for instance by starting a defence inflammation.
This reaction is highly appropriate if the enemy is an influenza virus or something else that actually needs to be fought. However, sometimes the body misinterprets the signals, and starts a defence inflammation against a non-existent enemy.
The result could be so-called autoimmune diseases: psoriasis, arthritis, Bechterew’s, asthma, allergies, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease – and numerous others.
The list is longer than we care to imagine, and affects large parts of the population.
“Judas enzyme” sends the wrong message
Professor Berit Johansen at the Department of Biology at NTNU previously discovered which enzyme that misinterprets signals and reprograms cells to divide much faster than they should – thus provoking disease.
The enzyme is called phospholipase A2, less formally known as the “Judas enzyme”.
Now, Professor Johansen and her research group have created various stop molecules that prevent the “Judas enzyme” from sending the wrong messages to the cell nucleus. By doing so, the inflammatory reaction can be prevented.
One of these stop molecules was recently tested in mice infected with psoriasis. The results are more than promising: Every single mouse got better, in all respects.
In addition, it turned out that a high dosage yielded better effect than a low dosage.
Medical testing right around the corner
This discovery means that a substantial part of the road to a new type of medication is history. The next step is testing on humans.
Early next year, the substance will be available as a cream, ready to be applied on the first test persons. This testing will take place in France.
Professor Berit Johansen’s new firm, Avexxin, is also testing out two other molecules, one against rheumatoid arthritis, and one against nephritis.
By Hege Tunstad and Lisa Olstad/Gemini Research Journal
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