Major Breakthrough Allows Scientists to Better Understand Inflammatory Diseases

Major Breakthrough Allows Scientists to Better Understand Inflammatory Diseases
Disease Research

Scientists have just achieved a major breakthrough in understanding how inflammation works on a cellular level. This new research, led by Dr. Evanna Mills of Trinity College Dublin, was recently published in the journal Cell.

Mills and her team from 9 different institutions have found that when macrophage cells are activated, they re-wire the mitochondria in the cells to a point that the response becomes abnormal. In this case, this presents with inflammatory diseases and conditions like Crohn’s, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and a host of other painful conditions. [1]

While acute inflammation works to help the body fight disease, the macrophage coerces the mitochondria into creating toxic products from oxygen using an enzyme called succinate dehydrogenase. This causes pain and inflammation throughout the body. Normal macrophages also work to repair tissue that has been damaged as a result of inflammation and helps the body repress the inflammation when it is time for the body to stop fighting the disease. However, in inflammatory conditions, the macrophages are unable to help in this process. [2]

Succinate dehydrogenase may also help suppress tumors, which makes the enzyme one that researchers are very interested in.

This new study can now help doctors target treatments of inflammatory diseases and responses while possibly helping provide relief for a wide range of conditions in the future.

Read: Experimental Stem Cell Therapy Shows Promise Against Arthritis

Dr. Beth Kelly, co-lead author on the study, said:

“Preventing this process turns the macrophage into a more benign anti-inflammatory cell, so if we can find a way of mediating the macrophage response, we might be able to preferentially calm down the inflammation.” [3]

This research is the newest contribution to the growing field of immunometabolism. This field studies the relationship between the immune system and metabolic responses.

Researchers who worked on the study are optimistic that this new breakthrough will make it possible for them to create targeted treatment options for patients in the future, helping them live a better and fuller life.

The scientists came together from Trinity College Dublin, Universities of Cambridge, Helsinki and Tampere, Harvard Medical School, the Medical Research Council UK Cancer Unit, Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute Glasgow, and the Max Planck Institute, Germany.

[1] Medical News Today

[2] New Medical Life Sciences

[3] Trinity College Dublin