Master switch discovery could provide road map for treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases

January 23rd, 2013 in Inflammatory disorders /

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists trying to create drugs to treat chronic inflammation in diseases like arthritis now have a new culprit known MMP2. New University of British Columbia research shows that this enzyme works as a master switch to activate inflammatory diseases.

The research, published recently in Science Signaling, examined the role a group of enzymes known as MMP proteases play in inflammation. Arthritis is caused by excessive inflammation in an overactive immune system trying to repair damaged tissues. In patients with arthritis, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues, most commonly the joints. This attack leads to inflammation, pain and joint damage.

Chris Overall, a professor in the Faculty of Dentistry and Canada Research Chair in Metalloproteinase & Systems Biology, and his team found that the protease MMP2 can remove a block allowing inflammation to become activated. This pathway is often overactive in patients with arthritis and other .

"Imagine a cart parked on a hill with a rock behind its wheel to prevent it from rolling down the hill," said Overall. "We found that MMP2 can remove that rock, causing the immune response to activate."

According to Overall, who regularly employs arthritis as a disease model in his research, this is the first study to explain this pathway system.

"We were amazed by these results. This shows us a new way to design drugs to treat many chronic inflammatory diseases like arthritis and even periodontal disease," said Overall.

Findings also provide the basis for a new diagnosis screen such as a blood test to detect the disease before the severe damage to joints occurs.

Arthritis: Impact and treatment

Provided by University of British Columbia

"Master switch discovery could provide road map for treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases." January 23rd, 2013. http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-01-master-discovery-road-treatment-arthritis.html