A compound derived from immune cells may cure psoriasis: study

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WASHINGTON, April 18 (Xinhua) -- American scientists identified a compound derived from immune cells that can treat psoriasis in mice and hold promise for other autoimmune diseases.

A new study published on Wednesday in Nature has revealed that the compound can suppress an inflammatory pathway that is overactive in many autoimmune diseases.

The finding suggested the compound potentially effective against multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other autoimmune diseases as well as psoriasis.

"We are taking advantage of the body's own anti-inflammatory power and showing that it can help in real situations when your own immune system is hurting you," said the paper's senior author Maxim Artyomov, an assistant professor of pathology and immunology from Washington University.

Inflammation is the body's defense system against infection. But when inflammation gets misdirected at the body's own healthy tissues, it causes autoimmune disease.

Artyomov's team had previously shown that inflammatory cells that detect the presence of bacteria produce a compound called itaconate. But instead of amplifying inflammation, itaconate dampens the inflammations.

They treated inflammatory cells from mice and people with dimethyl itaconate, a modified form of itaconate, finding that the compound reduces levels of a key protein, known as IkappaBzeta, in the IL-17 inflammatory pathway.

This pathway is crucial for fighting off some kinds of bacterial infections, but it is also the body's primary route to initiating autoimmune disease.

Also, genetic studies of people with psoriasis have found a link between variations in the gene for IkappaBzeta and a heightened risk of developing the disfiguring skin disease.

The researchers tested whether reducing protein levels with the itaconate compound could treat psoriasis in mice. So they induced psoriasis-like symptoms in the ears of mice while simultaneously dosing the animals with either dimethyl itaconate or placebo every day for a week.

By the end of the week, the ears of mice that had received the placebo were red and swollen, while the ears of mice that had been treated with dimethyl itaconate looked normal.

Since IL-17 plays a role in so many autoimmune diseases, a compound that puts a check on this pathway potentially could be helpful for treating many serious ailments. Enditem

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