Cells responsible for the chronic autoimmune condition lupus may be effectively blocked by a new generation of DNA-like compounds called class R inhibitory oligonucleotides (INH-ODNs).
Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy
have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effects of the INH-ODNs in both in vitro and mouse experiments.
Petar Lenert, from the University of Iowa, worked with a team of researchers to develop and test the compounds. He said, "The increased potency of class R INH-ODNs for certain cells involved in lupus flare-ups will help patients by providing specific inhibition, yet allowing them to generate a protective immune response when needed".
Lenert and his colleagues found that their INH-ODN drugs, composed of double-stranded DNA-like analogues carrying autoimmune-inhibitory sequences, were able to selectively reduce the activity of autoreactive B cells and dendritic cells. When given to mice with lupus, the compounds delayed death and reduced kidney damage.
Systemic lupus erythematosus, more commonly known simply as lupus, is thought to affect around a million people in the USA, but prevalence varies by country and ethnicity. It is much more common in women than men and there is currently no known cure. During periodic 'flares', the immune system of people with the condition mounts an attack on cells and tissues throughout the body, resulting in a range of symptoms including the characteristic 'butterfly rash' across the cheeks. With further testing, Lenert and his colleagues hope that class R INH-ODNs may become another weapon in the fight against the disease.