Discovery of a ‘molecular switch’ could lead to new ways of treating infection, including MRSA

The discovery of a ‘molecular switch’ could lead to new ways of treating infections such as MRSA, and inflammatory diseases like arthritis.

According to research published today in Nature, the team from Imperial College London and the University of California, San Diego, have identified an enzyme called IKKa, which can act as a ‘brake’ on an immune cell pathway responsible for regulating the body’s response to infection and inflammation.

By inhibiting IKKa activity the researchers were able to increase the body’s ability to fight off infection, but at the same time also increased the body’s inflammatory response. They also found that IKKa inhibits activation of immune cells, and inhibits inflammation, a discovery which could lead to new ways of treating diseases such as arthritis.

Dr Toby Lawrence, a Wellcome Trust International Research Fellow from Imperial College London, based at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology, and lead author of the research, says: “The identification of this ‘double-edged sword’ could be of huge importance in how we deal with a number of major health issues, including MRSA. With antibacterial resistance on the rise, this development could provide doctors with a new way to stop infections without resorting to a cocktail of antibiotics.

“Although this is only a first step, the discovery could also help arthritis sufferers. By increasing IKKa activity we may be able to stop inflammation, and possibly develop a new treatment.”

The team investigated the role of IKKa in inflammation and immunity by comparing the response of mice with a defective IKKa enzyme, compared to normal mice, when exposed to the pathogen Streptococcus. In the mice without IKKa, they found significantly increased killing of bacteria in sepsis and pneumonia, but found that inflammation was higher than the normal mice. This result led the team to believe that IKKa was a stop signal to limit the inflammatory response.

Media Contact

Tony Stephenson alfa

More Information:

http://www.imperial.ac.uk

All latest news from the category: Health and Medicine

This subject area encompasses research and studies in the field of human medicine.

Among the wide-ranging list of topics covered here are anesthesiology, anatomy, surgery, human genetics, hygiene and environmental medicine, internal medicine, neurology, pharmacology, physiology, urology and dental medicine.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

New technique can quickly detect fentanyl and other opioids

Testing method can analyze blood samples twice as quickly as other techniques. University of Waterloo researchers have developed a new blood testing method that can detect potent opioids much faster…

Photon upconversion: Steering light with supercritical coupling

Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have unveiled a novel concept termed “supercritical coupling” that enables several folds increase in photon upconversion efficiency. This discovery not only challenges…

Researchers harness 2D magnetic materials for energy-efficient computing

An MIT team precisely controlled an ultrathin magnet at room temperature, which could enable faster, more efficient processors and computer memories. Experimental computer memories and processors built from magnetic materials…

Partners & Sponsors