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‘Marvel’ molecule could be used to block inflammation pathways

March 4, 2015

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Inflammatory conditions are some of the most common yet debilitating illnesses because very few treatments exist that effectively manage the symptoms of these illnesses. In fact, autoimmune diseases like arthritis and multiple sclerosis hinder the quality of life of millions of Americans every year.

However, there may be new hope for people living with conditions caused by inflammation. According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute at Trinity College and published in the journal Nature, a molecule known as MCC950 may help reduce or entirely block the symptoms of inflammatory conditions within the body.

The marvel molecule
"MCC950" may not seem like that imposing of a name, but for patients with debilitating conditions that limit their range of motion, the prospect of effectively shutting off their symptoms may be unbelievably impactful to their lives.

Luke O'Neill, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry at Trinity and contributing author of the study, told Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News (GEN) that MCC950 may represent a significant breakthrough for inflammatory disease research.

"Drugs like aspirin or steroids can work in several diseases, but can have side effects or be ineffective," O'Neill told GEN. "What we have found is a potentially transformative medicine, which targets what appears to be the common disease-causing process in a myriad of inflammatory diseases."

The authors explained that most inflammatory conditions are caused by the release of inflammasomes, and MCC950 works by blocking NLRP3, an inflammasome associated with arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other debilitating diseases.

"We are really excited about MCC950," O'Neill said. "We believe this has real potential to benefit patients suffering from several highly debilitating diseases, where there is currently a dire need for new medicines."

The wider picture
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 52.5 million adults in the country who live with some form of arthritis. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society reports a global figure of 2.3 million patients.

The population of patients living with inflammatory conditions is large enough that MCC950 has a huge opportunity for impact.