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Natural protein may protect against inflammation

2/10/2016

Increasing the level of a naturally-produced protein, called tristetraprolin (TTP), significantly reduced or protected mice from inflammation, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health. The results suggest that pharmaceutical compounds or other therapeutic methods that produce elevated levels of TTP in humans may offer an effective treatment for some inflammatory diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.

Dr. Perry Blackshear, a researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of NIH, led the team that altered the TTP gene in mice, so that the animals produced higher than normal amounts of the TTP protein. The mice were then tested using experimental models of MS. Blackshear said TTP exerts its beneficial effect by targeting several messenger molecules that encode cytokines, proteins known to be involved in inflammation. TTP binds to these molecules and destabilizes them, resulting in lower levels of cytokines and, thus, decreased inflammation.

Results of mouse model studies sometimes do not translate to humans and may be years away from being a marketable treatment. However, Blackshear anticipates that TTP-based treatments would be cost effective and easy to administer. Future work will seek to identify compounds that have similar effects on the levels of TTP in the body.

The report appeared online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.



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