Researchers have uncovered a marvel molecule that fights one of the main causes of inflammatory diseases and can be the key to improved treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
The international research team led by Trinity and the University of Queensland Australia showed how the molecule MCC950 can suppress the 'NLRP3 inflammasome,' which is an activator of the key process in inflammatory diseases.
Crucially, the finding also confirms that inflammatory diseases all share a common process, even though the part of the body becoming inflamed might differ.
Researcher Luke O'Neill said that the drugs like aspirin or steroids can work in several diseases, but can have side effects or be ineffective and what they have found is a potentially transformative medicine, which targets what appears to be the common disease-causing process in a myriad of inflammatory diseases.
Lead author Rebecca Coll added that MCC950 is blocking what was suspected to be a key process in inflammation. There is huge interest in NLRP3 both among medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies and they feel their work makes a significant contribution to the efforts to find new medicines to limit it.
Co-senior author Matt Cooper added that MCC950 is able to be given orally and will be cheaper to produce than current protein-based treatments, which are given daily, weekly, or monthly by injection.
Cooper noted that importantly, it will also have a shorter duration in the body, allowing clinicians to stop the anti-inflammatory action of the drug if the patient ever needed to switch their immune response back to 100 percent in order to clear an infection.
So far, the results have shown great promise for blocking multiple sclerosis in a model of that disease, as well as in sepsis, where in response to bacteria, potentially fatal blood poisoning occurs, but the target for MCC950 is strongly implicated in diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, atherosclerosis, gout, Parkinson's disease and rheumatoid arthritis, which means it has the potential to treat all of these conditions.
O'Neill added that they believe this has real potential to benefit patients suffering from several highly debilitating diseases, where there is currently a dire need for new medicines.
The study is published in medical journal Nature Medicine.