This release is available in Spanish.
Anti-inflammatory drugs affect the cells taking part in inflammatory processes, but also those that do not. This is why it is important to develop specific anti-inflammatory drugs which affect healthy cells. With this aim in mind, a team from the University of the Basque Country is working on analogues of the C1P molecule.
Today two types of anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs are available: steroids and those known as NSAID (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). This second type are the most used, have fewer side-effects but they have an effect over a wider spectrum, i.e. they are less specific. Thus, there are no specific anti-inflammatory drugs for each cell type.
The team led by Antonio Gmez-Muoz, from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Science and Technology Faculty of the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), is investigating alternatives to current anti-inflammatory drugs, creating synthetic analogues of the C1P (ceramide-1-phosphate) molecule. This molecule was discovered in 1990 in a case of human leukaemia After synthesising it in the laboratory, it was observed that it was an important mytogenic agent (provoking cell growth and blocking the natural death of the cells). Moreover, it causes cell inflammation, i.e. when the cells detect the presence of this molecule, they secrete molecules that generate inflammation - prostaglandin and cytokine cells, for example.
But this process does not occur with all types of cells. Although apparently contradictory, in some cells this same molecule functions in an anti-inflammatory manner. With this in mind, the Basque research team, annulling the inflammatory capacity of the C1P molecule, was able to use it as an anti-inflammatory drug for certain cell types without affecting other cells.