Researchers at Lund University in Sweden and collaborators have found how the body’s own peptides act to reduce infection and inflammation by deactivating the toxic substances formed in the process.
The study is published in Nature Communications.
The researchers believe their discovery could lead to new drugs against infection and inflammation, for example in wound healing.
The toxins that are neutralized, known as lipopolysaccharides (LPS), come from the bacterial cell walls and generate an inflammatory reaction.
The reaction is a necessary part of our immune defense system in which our bodies respond quickly and fight invasive bacteria.
However, it can be over-activated and become harmful, as observed in infected skin wounds, infections in various organs, or in the case of bacteria spreading to the blood, which can lead to sepsis.
“We know from previous studies what the task of these peptides is but now we have mapped how they proceed in gradually reducing an inflammatory reaction”, says Artur Schmidtchen, professor of dermatology and venereology at Lund University.
“Currently, most drugs aim to more or less completely block a target, such as a receptor. But that risks a deactivation of the immune defense system which can be detrimental and downright dangerous.
The body’s own defense mechanisms proceed with greater caution in what is known as a transient manner: the peptides act on their target for a short time to reduce an inflammation towards normalization.
It is the natural functions of these peptides that we want to develop into new drugs”, says Artur Schmidtchen, who has been researching innate immunity for over 20 years.
In addition, the peptides present in thrombin, a common blood protein, are multifunctional and can attack several targets, unlike current drugs.
The dermatology researchers now want to develop a peptide gel for improved wound healing in patient studies.
“That is the primary goal, but we will also be looking at the possibility of developing new drugs against infections in the eyes and various internal organs.
This will become a new way of preventing both infection and inflammation without using antibiotics.”.
Source: Lund University.