Findings from new research conducted at Baylor Scott & White Research Institute provide new insight into the role of a specific protein in the regulatory pathway associated with colon inflammation and tumor growth. The ubiquitin ligase protein, referred to as Itch, was found to control colonic inflammation by targeting and degrading another protein, ROR-gt, which induces the expression of interleukin 17 (IL-17). Uncontrolled expression of LI-17 is associated with intestinal inflammation and colon cancer. This mechanism for regulation of IL-17 production represents an advance in current understanding, according to study author Venuprasad Poojary, PhD, an associate investigator at Baylor Institute for Immunology Research (BIIR). The findings are reported online this week in the journal Nature Immunology.
Inflammation is a protective response to microbial infection and tissue injury, but uncontrolled chronic inflammation is a major risk factor for the development of colon cancer, as well as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions are both painful and debilitate patients’ quality of life. Dr. Poojary asserts that the new findings will be of value in the development of specific targeted therapies that can be delivered directed to the site of inflammation.
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Read a news story about the findings, with link to the journal article, here.