A research team from Stony Brook University has announced findings that may contribute to new and better treatments for Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF), an inherited chronic autoinflammatory condition that impacts a high proportion of people living around the Mediterranean Sea. FMF usually begins in childhood, and persists through adulthood. Repeated inflammatory episodes can result in complications that include arthritis and vasculitis. The condition affects primarily those with Mediterranean ethnic origins including Armenians, Italians, Greeks and Arabs. The study findings are published earlier this month in Cell Host & Microbe.
FMF is caused by mutations that lead to continuous activation of the protein pyrin. Current treatment options are limited to symptom management, and there are no known cures. The Stony Brook researchers found that a bacterial toxin present in Yersinia pestis, the bacterial agent of plague, effectively targets and inhibits the production of pyrin. James Bliska, PhD, lead author and Professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology at Stony Brook University School of Medicine commented “…the bacterial toxin hijacks human kinases to phosphorylate and inhibits pyrin, a process that could be translated into therapeutics for FMF.” Read more about the study findings here. The journal abstract may be read here.