A team of researchers at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh have discovered a protein, known as interleukin 22 (IL-22) that may play a critical role in the development of new therapies to treat pneumonia in children.
The study led by Dr Jay K. Kolls, chief of the Division of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology at Children's was conducted using a mice model and could successfully treat the mice with pneumonia by using purified IL-22.
"Currently there is no vaccine that covers all kinds of pneumonia and antibiotic treatment is sometimes limited by antibiotic resistance," Nature quoted Dr. Kolls, as saying.
"As acute respiratory infections are the no. 1 killer of children in the world, progress in the development of novel vaccines or new, more effective treatments is critical," he added.
IL-22 is generated by a lineage of cells known as T Helper Type 17 (Th17) that defends the host against the infections.
"Our results raise the possibility of developing new protein-based therapies using IL-22 to limit or prevent pneumonia," said he said.
The findings appear in the February online issue of Nature Medicine.