Dr. Ulrike Garscha from the Chair for Pharmaceutical and Medical Chemistry investigates the molecular inflammation processes by fluorescence microscopy. (Photo: Anne Günther/FSU)


Friedrich Schiller University Jena (FSU; Germany) and Karolinska Institute (Stockholm, Sweden) researchers, using fluorescence microscopy, have found that the enzyme 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) plays a pivotal role in regulating inflammation activities, and would be a promising target for new drugs to treat inflammatory diseases.

The research team, led by Dr. Ulrike Garscha of FSU, were able to study in detail the mechanism through which 5-LO and another protein called FLAP starts inflammation processes. To do this, they used a fluorescence microscopy method that allowed them to watch the unfolding processes time-resolved and with high precision. The method can test for appropriate candidates for far-more-targeted active compounds.

As soon as a cell of the immune system receives an inflammation signal, 5-LO—which normally moves freely within the cell—wanders to the membrane of the cell nucleus and interacts there with FLAP. “Only when they are associated with each other, the two molecules are able to unfold their impact and to start an inflammation,” says Prof. Dr. Oliver Werz, Chair of Pharmaceutical/Medicinal Chemistry at FSU.

The research team was able to observe the interaction of the partaking proteins in human immune cells using fluorescence microscopy, allowing them to clarify the exact regulatory mechanism through which the two molecules control the inflammatory process. Garscha is convinced that new therapeutic approaches in the treatment of inflammatory diseases will derive from these findings in the long run.

Full details of the work appear in The FASEB Journal.


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