NIAMS scientists find potential new way to block inflammation in autoimmune disease

Researchers from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have identified a promising new target for autoimmune disease treatment – a cell-surface receptor called DR3. Their research in mice, published on line in the journal Immunity, suggests that blocking this receptor could slow or stop the damaging inflammation characteristic of autoimmune diseases, potentially without leaving the body vulnerable to serious infections, as many current therapies do. DR3 is a protein on the surface of cells. It is a member of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family of receptors, which bind to molecules related to TNF, a cell-signaling protein that promotes inflammation. Many of today's most potent treatments for inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, interfere with the action of TNF, thereby blocking inflammation. Since current anti-TNF therapies don't work in all autoimmune diseases, however, the researchers turned to the study of DR3, which is a close relative of TNFR1, the main receptor for TNF.

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