Research is using ticks to help unlock better ways to fight inflammation, which causes so much suffering in people around the world.
The team led by the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute has ‘hijacked’ an anti-inflammatory mechanism used by ticks to block the activity of proteins important in human inflammatory diseases.
Inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis, pulmonary fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis and cancers cause great suffering worldwide.
The associated inflammation is caused by the release of proteins called chemokines in the affected tissues, so researchers are looking for ways to inhibit the activity of chemokines.
Supervised by Ph.D. student Shankar Devkota and published by Communication in Naturethis study discovered a new family of tick salivary proteins called A3 evasins.
These evasins can inhibit multiple chemokines, suggesting that they may be repurposed to target chemokines involved in human inflammatory diseases.
By analyzing the 3D structures of these evasins and their interactions with chemokines, the team designed and engineered evasin variants that inhibit chemokines involved in atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The co-senior Author Dr. Ram Bhusal, of the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, said this proof-of-principle study lays the foundation for the future development of engineered evasins that could be used to develop better treatments for inflammation.
“It turns out that ticks have naturally evolved the ability to block chemokine-driven inflammation, which enables them to survive in their hosts for long periods of time without the host’s knowledge,” he said.
Dr. Bhusal said tick evasins are special because there are no current anti-inflammatory drugs designed to directly target the chemokines.
“Tick-derived evasins represent a novel class of anti-inflammatory agents with a distinct mode of action in inhibiting chemokines,” he said. “Because of this, they offer a new perspective and an alternative strategy for reducing inflammation in the body.”
Co-senior author Professor Martin Stone said more research and human trials were needed, but progress was promising.
“This finding is important because it opens up possibilities for the development of a new generation of anti-inflammatory drugs,” he said.
“These new drugs can improve treatment options for patients with chronic inflammatory diseases, potentially saving lives and reducing suffering.”
Shankar Raj Devkota et al, Engineering broad-spectrum inhibitors of inflammatory chemokines from subclass A3 tick evasins, Communication in Nature (2023). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-39879-3
Provided by Monash University
Citation: Ticks’ natural defenses help develop anti-inflammatory drugs (2023, July 18) retrieved 18 July 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-07-natural-defenses-anti-inflammatory- drugs.html
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