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Scientists develop compound that effectively halts progression of multiple sclerosis
Date:4/18/2011

xpertise joining forces to solve important biological problems that have the potential to benefit human health."

Targeting Specific Receptors

For the past several years, Burris and his colleagues have been investigating small-molecule compounds that affect particular disease-related receptors (structures that bind other molecules, triggering some effect on the cell). In particular, the scientists have been interested in a pair of "orphan nuclear receptors" (receptors with no known natural binding partner) called RORα and RORγ involved in both autoimmune and metabolic diseases.

These particular receptors play a critical role in the development of TH17 cells, a form of T helper cells that make up part of the immune system. A relatively new discovery, TH17 cells have been implicated in the pathology of numerous autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and lupus. TH17 cells produce Interleukin-17, a natural molecule that can induce inflammation, a characteristic of autoimmunity.

"If you eliminate TH17 cell signals, you basically eliminate the disease in animal models," Burris said. "Our compound is the first small-molecule orally active drug that targets this specific cell type and shuts it down. Once SR1001 is optimized, chances are it will be far more potent and effective."

The compound works without affecting other types of T helper cells and without any significant metabolic impact, Burris added.


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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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