A protein which may help fight many inflammatory diseases has been discovered by researchers from Melbourne.
Drs Marcel and Claudia Nold from the Monash Institute of Medical Research, describe how a protein interleukin 37 (IL-37) reacts when an inflammatory response is detected in the body.
"Our bodies mount an inflammatory response to protect against an infection, such as bacteria or viruses. However, if uncontrolled, inflammation can become destructive. IL-37 is a protein from the cytokine family and is used by the immune system to regulate the immune response and protect the body from damage caused by excessive inflammation," Nature quoted Marcel as saying.
"Currently, the only way to treat this often fatal disease is to use powerful hormone-based therapies. While these can be effective, there is a range of serious side effects, including a return of the disease after cessation of treatment," he said.
Claudia said that they discovered IL-37 is one of the rare anti-inflammatory cytokines that blocks inflammation throughout the whole body. And, unlike other anti-inflammatory cytokines, IL-37 does not target just one specific inflammatory agent but acts much more broadly.
"We also realised that IL-37 was activated by a wide range of biological triggers. There are very few cytokines in the human body that possess these qualities. We believe that potential therapies using IL-37 could treat a wide range of diseases in adults and children," she said.
The reports will appear in Nature Immunology.