Researchers in the News
Getting to the Root of Autoimmune Disease
Arthritis Foundation-funded researcher Chen Dong, PhD, and his colleagues at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, discovered what they call the molecular roots of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases like arthritis, asthma and multiple sclerosis. The researchers located a new type of T cell that they call inflammatory TH cells (THi). These cells produce interleukin 17 (IL-17), a cytokine that has been linked autoimmune diseases. “These findings suggest that shutting down the activity of these THi cells might stop chronic inflammatory diseases from developing in the first place,” says Dr. Dong. While such drugs are years from development, Dr. Dong believes IL-17 blocking agents could be effective treatment in the future. This study was published in the November 2005 issue of Nature Immunology.
New Treatment, Prevention Possibility for Age-Related Bone Fractures
A molecule known as transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) may be the key to preventing and treating age-associated diseases, according to Tamara Alliston, PhD, and her colleagues at University of California, San Francisco. The researchers investigated whether TGF-beta regulates the properties of bone matrix, which is responsible for bone elasticity and toughness. “This is the first evidence that properties of bone matrix can be regulated by a growth factor and that by modifying the TGF-beta pathway, specifically, these properties can be controlled,” says Alliston, an Arthritis Foundation-funded researcher. The study was published in the December 2005 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.