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Potential New Targets for Treatment of Inflammatory and Autoimmune Diseases

Researchers have discovered a cellular pathway that promotes inflammation in diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis. Understanding the details of this pathway may provide opportunities for tailored treatments of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Discovery of this pathway was the work of an active collaboration between Dr. Xiaoxia Li and Dr. Thomas Hamilton, Department Chair, both of the Department of Immunology at Lerner Research Institute of the Cleveland Clinic. Their two publications in the September 2011 issue of Nature Immunology, selected for a News and Views article in the same issue, portray how a protein molecule known as interleukin-17 (IL-17) spurs inflammation by recruiting specific white blood cells to sites of infection and injury, producing a strong, pathogenic response. Being able to block this pathway may allow treatment of IL-17-induced inflammatory diseases. Molecular factors discovered by Drs. Li and Hamilton make this concept a potential strategy. "We are excited by the possibilities that this new research opens up for developing improved therapeutics for these difficult diseases," Dr. Hamilton said. "Being able to collaborate like this really expedites the science," Dr. Li added, "ultimately leading, we hope, to profound improvement for those suffering from these autoimmune and inflammatory conditions." [Press release] [Nature Immunology abstract 1] [Nature Immunology abstract 2] [Nature Immunology News & Views article]