Autoimmune Disease Cure may lie in Protein
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- When someone suffers from an autoimmune disease, their body’s immune system is mistakenly attacking itself. These types of diseases are becoming more and more prevalent in Western society, but researchers say they’ve discovered new clues that may lead to an alternative treatment.
When the body contracts an infection, its normal response is to try to remove the pathogenic organisms through inflammation. Sometimes this inflammation process can spiral out of control and cause the body’s own immune system to turn on itself. Some common autoimmune diseases include thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and also certain cancers.
Researchers at VIB, the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, in connection with Ghent University and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, discovered a protein responsible for initiating this inflammation reaction. The protein, named MALT1, slices another protein called A20. In normal circumstances, A20 inhibits inflammation but when MALT1 is present, the inflammation reaction amplifies.
Scientists believe their findings will lead to the development of new medicines that counteract MALT1 and restrain the inflammation process naturally. They also hope to improve the treatment of cancers like MALT lymphoma as well as improve organ transplants by preventing the immunoreactions that result in tissue rejection.
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SOURCE: Nature Immunology, published online Jan. 27, 2008, doi:10.1038/ni1561, The U.S. Department of Health & Human Service