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    You are here : Home » MS Research News » New Discoveries » PKC-theta


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    Cell discovery could boost MS fight

    PKC-ThetaA new cell discovery could pave the way to novel treatments for multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and other auto-immune diseases, scientists believe.

    Researchers in the US identified a previously unknown molecular interaction that helps programme the immune system to attack the body's own cells.

    The findings explain how and under what conditions a particular enzyme, PKC-theta, activates disease-fighting white blood cells called T-lymphocytes.

    Scientists led by Dr Amnon Altman, from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in California, identified a small region of the enzyme that appears to be vital to the process.

    British expert Professor Christopher Rudd, from Cambridge University, said the discovery was a "big advance" with clinical implications. "This now means that this region in PKC-theta can be targeted by novel therapeutics, or that protein fragments of the region itself could be used to treat a variety of immune disorders," he said.

    The research is published in the journal Nature Immunology.

    Dr Altman said efforts to find ways of blocking the enzyme's activity have been ongoing at several drug companies.

    He added: "Here we have found an alternative way of blocking the function of PKC-theta. Essentially, the enzyme remains fully active, but it can't trigger T-cell activation because it's not in the right place in the cell."

    Targeting the interaction between the enzyme and immune cells was likely to be highly selective and have a minimal effect on other cells in the body, he said.

    However, he stressed that finding a way to stop PKC-theta binding to its molecular target on T-lymphocytes was not an easy task.

    Source: The Press Association Copyright © 2011 The Press Association. (03/10/11)

    © Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre (MSRC)

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