Leading the way to a cure


IL-17RC: A Novel Target for Anti-Cytokine Therapy

Gaffen, Sarah, PhD

University of Pittsburgh

Chemical messengers called ctyokines play an important role in driving the inflammation that ultimately causes tissue damage in lupus. They act by binding to specific molecular receptors, so understanding precisely how cytokines and their receptors interact may provide a basis for designing more effective treatments. 

One such cytokine is interleukin (IL)-17, which is over-expressed in patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The receptor for IL-17 is very poorly defined. However, recent biochemical studies by Dr. Gaffen’s team and other groups have shown that there are at least two molecules within the IL-17 receptor that could serve as targets for cytokine-blocking agents: IL-17RA and IL-17RC. In animal models, blocking IL-17RA has been shown to alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and many efforts are underway in the pharmaceutical industry to target IL-17RA. In contrast, very few studies of IL-17RC have been reported. 

With this grant, Dr. Gaffen and her team will use a mouse model of lupus to gain a fundamental understanding of the molecular nature of the IL-17 receptor. They will focus on how IL-17RC interacts with IL-17RA and whether soluble forms of IL-17RC can be used to block IL-17-mediated inflammation.

What this study means for people with lupus: A better understanding of the IL-17 receptor and its interaction with IL-17RC and RA could lead to the development of new treatments for lupus and other autoimmune conditions.

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