Scientists have developed a new drug-like molecule that can inhibit inflammation. The find has shown promise in preventing the progression of multiple sclerosis.
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute scientists have developed a small drug-like molecule called WEHI-345 that binds to and inhibits a key immune signaling protein called RIPK2. This prevents the release of inflammatory cytokines. Examining WEHI-345’s potential to treat immune diseases in experimental models of MS, it was found that WEHI-345 prevented further progression of the disease in 50 percent of cases after symptoms of MS first appeared.
Results of mouse model studies sometimes do not translate to humans and may be years away from being a marketable treatment. Calling the results extremely important, researchers said WEHI-345 had potential as an anti-inflammatory agent.
The study’s lead author, Dr Ueli Nachbur, said institute scientists would use WEHI-345 to further investigate the signaling pathway that produced inflammatory cytokines and to develop a better, stronger inhibitor of RIPK2 for treating inflammatory disease. “This signaling pathway must be finely balanced, because WEHI-345 only delayed signaling rather than blocked it. Nevertheless, this delay is enough to completely shut off cytokine production,” he said.
The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.