Queensland study bring treatments for chronic inflammation closer

Researchers find key to stopping inflammation protein

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TREATMENT HOPE: Researchers believe they are closer to a way to stop inflammation in its tracks.

TREATMENT HOPE: Researchers believe they are closer to a way to stop inflammation in its tracks.


Out-of-control inflammation can cause chronic disease.


INFLAMMATION helps our body heal when it gets an infection but when it gets out of control it can result in chronic diseases such as asthma, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease.

Now researchers at the University of Queensland have discovered a way to stop inflammation in its tracks bringing effective treatments a step closer.

Associate Professor Kate Schroder and Dr Rebecca Coll from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Professor Avril Robertson from UQ's School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences led a study, which will inform the design of new drugs to stop the formation of a protein complex, called the inflammasome, which drives inflammation.

Dr Coll, who is now a lecturer at the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine at Queen's University Belfast, said the inflammasome was important in protecting our bodies from infection, but is also a key driver of unhealthy inflammation.

"Inflammation helps our bodies heal following infection, but when the inflammasome is not switched off, inflammation becomes damaging."

Associate Professor Schroder said the team's exciting discovery gave new insight into how to stop inflammation at the molecular level.

"We previously identified a small molecule, MCC950, that inhibits the inflammasome to block inflammation in disease but, until now, we did not understand how it worked," she said.

"We discovered that MCC950 binds directly to the inflammasome and inactivates it, turning off inflammation.

"Now that we understand how a small molecule can inhibit the inflammasome, we are very excited about the potential of inflammasome inhibitors as anti-inflammatory drugs.

Professor Robertson said "UQ start-up Inflazome Ltd, which is developing targeted therapies for inflammatory diseases, had announced plans to commence clinical trials of their inflammasome inhibitors in 2019.

"We are keen to see results of these trials and hope that our discovery can lead to the efficient design of new molecules as anti-inflammatory drugs of the future," she said.

The research was published in the scientific journal Nature Chemical Biology and supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia and the Australian Research Council.