TCD research could help in regulation of inflammatory diseases

‘PKM2’ protein manages immune cell types at heart of conditions like psoriasis and MS

Research carried out at Trinity College Dublin  identified ‘PKM2’ protein  as a potential therapeutic target for treating a host of diseases such as psoriasis (the effects of which are pictured) and multiple sclerosis.

Research carried out at Trinity College Dublin identified ‘PKM2’ protein as a potential therapeutic target for treating a host of diseases such as psoriasis (the effects of which are pictured) and multiple sclerosis.

 

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin have found an important “switch” in human cells for regulating inflammatory diseases.

The scientists say they have uncovered an important role for a protein called PKM2 in the regulation of immune cell types at the heart of multiple inflammatory diseases.

The work identifies PKM2 as a potential therapeutic target for treating a host of diseases mediated by over-active immune cells, such as psoriasis and multiple sclerosis.

The findings are reported on Thursday in leading journal Cell Metabolism, where a study says PKM2 is the central “on” switch for these cells.

The discovery arose from research into the role of PKM2 in the regulation of two cell types called “Th17” and “Th1” cells by lead author Stefano Angiari, working with a team led by Prof Luke O’Neill, from the school of biochemistry and immunology in Trinity.

“Th17 and Th1 cells are very important for the damage that happens in autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and multiple sclerosis. We have found that interfering with PKM2 blocks these cells and limits inflammation,” Dr Angiari said.

Prof O’Neill added: “PKM2 is a fascinating protein that has a role in how cells use glucose for energy, but it also moonlights in the immune system, where we have found it can be especially troublesome.

“We are currently exploring it as a new target for therapies that might work in patients with diseases like psoriasis and multiple sclerosis, where treatment options are limited.”

The study was funded by the EU Marie Curie programme and the Wellcome Trust.