Key Player In Inflammation Found

A protein called IKKa shuts down inflammation following an immune response to invading pathogens, say researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine. In research with mice and lab cultures of immune cells called macrophages, the UCSD team found that IKKa stops inflammatory response before it can damage cells and organs. This discovery could help scientists find new ways to deal with autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus, as well as drug-resistant bacterial infections and flesh-eating staph infections. For example, it may be possible to create an IKKa inhibitor that boosts the body's inflammatory response so it's better able to fight such infections, the UCSD researchers said in a prepared statement. IKKa is part of a sophisticated two-pronged system that maintains proper inflammatory response, they added. It was already known that IKKa's sister protein, IKK beta, initiates the body's inflammatory response. However, little was known about the mechanism for halting inflammatory response before it injures tissue and organs. The study appears in the April 28 issue of Nature.

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