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New therapy shows novel therapeutic approach to fighting inflammation

07 April 2011 Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Researchers at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have succeeded in finding a new therapeutic approach to certain inflammatory reactions of the body. The focus of this new approach, developed under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Schwab, are known as guidance molecules, which reduce the body's own immune system to the required level and prevent excessive and damaging inflammation. Possible applications include therapies for inflammation, such as blood poisoning, but also in chronic inflammation and immunological inflammations such as rheumatoid arthritis and organ rejection.

Two types of guidance molecules, the attractive and the repulsive, direct the growth of nerve cells to the actual target. The designation of these molecules ("guidance" molecules) also describes the exclusive function that was previously attributed to them, namely to show the growing nerve fibers the way. The fundamentally new approach to the research of Prof. Dr. Schwab and his team at the Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT) is the realization that these guidance molecules have an additional hitherto unknown role in the immune system.

The problem with the so-called "excessive" inflammation of the body is that the immune system overreacts and there by aggravates the actual inflammation.  Here the repulsive molecules drive the immune molecules (leukocytes) into the way and thus prevent the inflammation from getting out of control or becoming chronic. The research is published in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The new approach represents a softer, more specific alternative to the orthodox approaches to the combat of inflammation such as cortisone, due to cortisone’s non-specific effect as well as many associated side effects which pose problems for many patients. Prof. Dr. Schwab is optimistic that through this research, a new effective therapy could be found, which can be effective in the fight against excessive inflammation; due to their fundamentally new understanding of this important aspect of the immune system.

http://www.charite.de/en/charite/

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