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BGU Develops “Smart” Drug to Reduce Inflammation

BGU Develops “Smart” Drug to Reduce Inflammation

July 22, 2015

Medical Research, Press Releases

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and University of Colorado researchers have developed a dynamic “smart” drug that targets inflammation in a site-specific manner and could enhance the body’s natural ability to fight infection and reduce side effects.

The uniqueness of this novel anti-inflammatory molecule, reported in the current issue of Journal of Immunology, can be found in a singular property. When injected, it is as a non-active drug.  However, a localized site with excessive inflammation will activate it. Most other anti-inflammatory agents effectively inhibit inflammatory processes, though in a non-specific manner and in areas that include sites of necessary normal inflammatory homeostasis.

Dr. Peleg Rider

Dr. Peleg Rider

“This development is important because inhibition of inflammation in a non-specific manner reduces the natural ability to fight infections and is a common side effect of anti-inflammatory biologic therapeutics,” says Dr. Peleg Rider of BGU’s Department of Clinical Biochemistry and Pharmacology.

When a non-specific agent is used, any patient who suffers from local inflammation might then be exposed to opportunistic infections at distant sites, such as lungs, risking, for example, tuberculosis. This risk is mainly of concern to immunosuppressed patients, as well as older patients and patients undergoing chemotherapy as part of an anti-cancer treatment course.

“The beauty of this invention lies in the use of a known natural biological code,” Dr. Rider explains. “We mimicked a natural process that occurs during inflammation.”

The protein molecule is actually a chimera comprised of two domains, both originating from the potent inflammatory cytokine family of IL-1. The first part of the protein holds the functional part of the molecule inactive, as occurs in normal living cells, and is connected to a potent natural inhibitor of IL-1. When it encounters inflammatory enzymes, the molecule is cleaved and the functional part becomes active.

inflammationDr. Rider, along with BGU’s Dr. Eli Lewis and Prof. Charles Dinarello of the University of Colorado, demonstrated their findings in a mouse model of local inflammation. They showed that leukocytes, which infiltrate inflammatory sites, indeed activate the chimeric protein, which in turn reduces local inflammation. The activation of the protein correlated with the amount of inflammatory stimuli.

“Thus, a point that is highly relevant to clinical practice arises. Upon resolution of inflammation, the activation of the protein is also reduced and side effects are avoided,” Dr. Rider explains.

The new chimeric molecule was patented by BGN Technologies, BGU’s technology transfer company, and by the University of Colorado.

The research was supported by the Kamin program of Israel’s Ministry of Economy’s Chief Scientist’s Office.

ABOUT AMERICANS FOR BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY

By supporting a world-class academic institution that not only nurtures the Negev, but also shares its expertise locally and globally, Americans for Ben-Gurion University engages a community of Americans who are committed to improving the world. David Ben-Gurion envisioned that Israel’s future would be forged in the Negev. The cutting-edge research carried out at Ben-Gurion University drives that vision by sustaining a desert Silicon Valley, with the “Stanford of the Negev” at its center. The Americans for Ben-Gurion University movement supports a 21st century unifying vision for Israel by rallying around BGU’s remarkable work and role as an apolitical beacon of light in the Negev desert.

About Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev embraces the endless potential we have as individuals and as a commonality to adapt and to thrive in changing environments. Inspired by our location in the desert, we aim to discover, to create, and to develop solutions to dynamic challenges, to pose questions that have yet to be asked, and to push beyond the boundaries of the commonly accepted and possible.

We are proud to be a central force for inclusion, diversity and innovation in Israel, and we strive to extend the Negev’s potential and our entrepreneurial spirit throughout the world. For example, the multi-disciplinary School for Sustainability and Climate Change at BGU leverages over 50 years of expertise on living and thriving in the desert into scalable solutions for people everywhere.

BGU at a glance:  

20,000 students | 800 senior faculty | 3 campuses | 6 faculties: humanities & social sciences, health sciences, engineering sciences, natural sciences, business & management, and desert research.

 

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