UV Activated Chemical Tool Mediates Inflammatory Response

Researchers from Cornell University have announced the development of a chemical tool that, when activated by ultraviolet (UV) light, inhibits the body’s inflammatory response to immune system challenges. The discovery may be useful in advancing our understanding of inflammatory response mechanisms, and in the design of more targeted therapies that avoid unwanted side effects. Senior author Pamela Chang, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, said, “We are pushing the forefront of developing new technologies to control inflammation and the immune system, with the ultimate goal of being able to study these biological pathways and perhaps develop therapies for inflammatory diseases.” The results of the Cornell team’s work was published in Chemical Science.

Chronic inflammation is associated with a variety of debilitating conditions, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, colitis, and Crohn’s disease. The inflammatory response to immune system challenge is mediated by enzymes called histone deacetylases (HDACs). The Cornell team designed a chemical probe that inhibits this activity of HDACs but only in the presence of UV light. This opens the possibility of selectively inhibiting HDACs in the tissue affected by chronic inflammation, while avoiding those situated elsewhere. Dr Chang noted, “If you turned off all the HDACs in the body, you would probably be hitting a lot of pathways that you didn’t want to turn off. We can control when and where we turn off the HDACs using light.”

A news story about the discovery may be read here.

The journal article may be read here.

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