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Melbourne, February 18, 2015 (PTI) Scientists in Australia have developed a marvel molecule that fights one of the main causes of inflammatory diseases and could be the key in formulating improved treatments for diseases like Alzheimer’s, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Researchers at University of Queensland, in collaboration with an international team, worked to develop the molecule that could lead to safer, cheaper treatments. The molecule, known as MCC950, could help prevent inflammation in immune cells, Matt Cooper of the University’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience was quoted as saying by the ABC.

“It is one of the first molecules we’ve ever seen that can attack this complex we call the inflammasome — and that’s in every one of our immune cells, it’s a key part of our response to infection,” he said. “But when it goes wrong, it activates these cells so then people become chronically agitated and [their] immune system goes into overdrive,” he said.

Stating that the molecule was tested on animals and blood samples from patients in the United States, Mr. Cooper said, “Patients have donated blood samples, these are patients with a very severe form of inflammation called Muckle-Wells syndrome.”

“We can see in those patients this immune response, this inflammasome is overactive and when we give the compound to those blood samples in a laboratory we can stop that process.” Stating that the new molecule could be taken orally and would be cheaper to produce than current protein-based treatments, Mr. Cooper said the molecule was very small and passed from the gut into the bloodstream very quickly.

“But it also means it can go places that proteins can’t get to... particularly in the brain and, with multiple sclerosis, into the CNS — the central nervous system,” he said.

It was not clear whether the molecule could cure inflammatory diseases or just treat the symptoms, he added. The study is a global venture with scientists from the U.S., Trinity College in Dublin and Germany.

The next step is clinical trials. The research was published in the journal Nature Medicine.


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