A protein identified in a University of Central Florida lab has the power to suppress inflammation, a discovery that could help get to the root causes of disorders from arthritis to heart diseases.

A research team led by Pappachan Kolattukudy, director of the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, initially discovered MCPIP (Monocyte Chemotactic Protein-1 Induced Protein), which has now been shown to act as a suppressor of inflammation. It does this by inhibiting another protein that triggers an inflammatory response in the body.

That regulatory role makes the protein an attractive target for new drug development to fight inflammatory diseases. Inflammation is an underlying problem in major chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cancer and obesity-induced type 2 diabetes.

The team’s findings are published in the December issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine

Kolattukudy and his team discovered MCPIP in 2006 while researching heart disease, but they weren’t sure how it worked. The team continued to investigate the protein’s nature and found one of its key jobs is to regulate inflammation.

“Identifying the important role this gene plays in the body’s inflammatory response gives us another leg up in understanding the causes of debilitating diseases and, hopefully, a new path for fighting them,” Kolattukudy said.

The next step of the research will be to find drug candidates that can promote or inhibit MCPIP function for therapeutic applications.

The research team includes Kolattukudy, Jian Liang, Yasser Saad and Jing Wang from the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, College of Medicine, at UCF; Quinlin Yang from the University of Alabama at Birmingham; and Dongfei Qi, Tianhua Lei and Mingui Fu from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Medicine. When Fu came to UCF, he joined Kolattukudy’s team working on MCPIP. He continued that collaboration after he left UCF to join the University of Missouri.

Contact: Barbara Abney, Office of Research and Commercialization, UCF, Tel: 407-823-5139, Email: babney@mail. ucf. edu

Source: The University of Central Florida

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