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A major step toward a more targeted treatment for auto-immune diseases?
Date:1/27/2008

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 bodys 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 bodys own substances. This can lead to auto-immune diseases such as rheumatism, Crohns 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. Thats why VIB researchers Beatrice Coornaert (UGent), Rudi Beyaert (UGent), Thijs Baens (K.U.Leuven) and Peter Mary
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Contact: Sooike Stoops
info@vib.be
329-244-6611
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Source:Eurekalert

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