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 Tracing the evolution of vision
23.08.2019 | University of Göttingen

nachricht Caffeine does not influence stingless bees
23.08.2019 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Hamburg and Kiel researchers observe spontaneous occurrence of skyrmions in atomically thin cobalt films

Since their experimental discovery, magnetic skyrmions - tiny magnetic knots - have moved into the focus of research. Scientists from Hamburg and Kiel have now been able to show that individual magnetic skyrmions with a diameter of only a few nanometres can be stabilised in magnetic metal films even without an external magnetic field. They report on their discovery in the journal Nature Communications.

The existence of magnetic skyrmions as particle-like objects was predicted 30 years ago by theoretical physicists, but could only be proven experimentally in...

Im Focus: Physicists create world's smallest engine

Theoretical physicists at Trinity College Dublin are among an international collaboration that has built the world's smallest engine - which, as a single calcium ion, is approximately ten billion times smaller than a car engine.

Work performed by Professor John Goold's QuSys group in Trinity's School of Physics describes the science behind this tiny motor.

Im Focus: Quantum computers to become portable

Together with the University of Innsbruck, the ETH Zurich and Interactive Fully Electrical Vehicles SRL, Infineon Austria is researching specific questions on the commercial use of quantum computers. With new innovations in design and manufacturing, the partners from universities and industry want to develop affordable components for quantum computers.

Ion traps have proven to be a very successful technology for the control and manipulation of quantum particles. Today, they form the heart of the first...

Im Focus: Towards an 'orrery' for quantum gauge theory

Experimental progress towards engineering quantized gauge fields coupled to ultracold matter promises a versatile platform to tackle problems ranging from condensed-matter to high-energy physics

The interaction between fields and matter is a recurring theme throughout physics. Classical cases such as the trajectories of one celestial body moving in the...

Im Focus: A miniature stretchable pump for the next generation of soft robots

Soft robots have a distinct advantage over their rigid forebears: they can adapt to complex environments, handle fragile objects and interact safely with humans. Made from silicone, rubber or other stretchable polymers, they are ideal for use in rehabilitation exoskeletons and robotic clothing. Soft bio-inspired robots could one day be deployed to explore remote or dangerous environments.

Most soft robots are actuated by rigid, noisy pumps that push fluids into the machines' moving parts. Because they are connected to these bulky pumps by tubes,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The power of thought – the key to success: CYBATHLON BCI Series 2019

16.08.2019 | Event News

4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020 28 - 29 April 2020, Karlsruhe, Germany

14.08.2019 | Event News

What will the digital city of the future look like? City Science Summit on 1st and 2nd October 2019 in Hamburg

12.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Making small intestine endoscopy faster with a pill-sized high-tech camera

23.08.2019 | Medical Engineering

More reliable operation offshore wind farms

23.08.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tracing the evolution of vision

23.08.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>