The Molecule of Many Diseases

Inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis prompted by interleukin 17

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It is good news when researchers gain a little more knowledge about the development of one disease. It is even better news when that little bit of knowledge applies to a whole group of diseases.

Researchers have found a cellular pathway that may contribute to inflammation in diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and asthma.

"There could be a new target for treating inflammatory diseases."

Xiaoxia Li, Ph.D., and Thomas Hamilton, Ph.D., both from the Lerner Research Institute of Cleveland Clinic, made this discovery, which has implications for a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune disease.

Usually, your body's immune system protects you from disease and infection. However, among those with an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue. Many autoimmune diseases involve inflammation, or swelling, of these healthy tissues.

Dr. Li and Dr. Hamilton found that a protein molecule called interleukin-17 (IL-17) promotes inflammation. The molecule seems to cause inflammation by gathering certain white blood cells to injured or infected parts of the body. When these white blood cells arrive at the injury sites, they create a strong disease-causing response.

Blocking the cellular pathway of IL-17 could lead to new treatments for many autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis.

According to Dr. Hamilton, "We are excited by the possibilities that this new research opens up for developing improved therapeutics for these difficult diseases."

The research conducted by Dr. Li and Dr. Hamilton is published in Nature Immunology.

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Review Date: 
October 10, 2011
Last Updated:
October 10, 2011