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Novel fused protein quells inflammation

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7:34pm, December 17, 2007
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From Atlanta, at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology

A new compound made from the fusion of two proteins revs up cells to knock down the inflammation underlying a wide range of health problems.

The synthetic creation is dubbed GIFT-15, short for its two components, interleukin-15 and a compound called GMCSF. In lab dish tests, GIFT-15 induced mouse spleen cells to produce interleukin-10, a potent anti-inflammatory protein, reports Moutih Rafei, an immunologist at the Montréal Centre for Experimental Therapeutics in Cancer.

Rafei and his colleagues also tested GIFT-15 in mice with transplanted human tissue. While mice without GIFT-15 rejected the transplants outright, animals treated with the fusion protein tolerated it.

In another experiment, GIFT-15 stopped inflammation in spinal cords of mice with a disease similar to multiple sclerosis (MS). Before treatment with GIFT-15, the animals showed loss of muscle control arising from inflammatory nerve damage. Afterward, they recovered within 6 weeks.

The researchers plan to remove some of a patient's cells, treat them with GIFT-15 in a lab dish, and multiply the cells. Ideally, these cells could then be returned to the patient as anti-inflammatory therapy for MS, organ transplants, inflammatory bowel disease, and other conditions, Rafei says. Being a person's own cells, they would avoid immune rejection, he says.

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