New drug target – cathepsins – for inflammatory diseases

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cathepsins, gout, inflammation, new treatmentA potential drug target for particle-driven diseases such as gout may be a focus of new treatments, a research team reports in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

Particle-induced cell death depends on lots of redundant cathepsins, or enzymes used to digest proteins. By silencing these cathepsins in white blood cells that ingest foreign particles, the researchers found that several key proinflammatory events brought on by sterile particles are blocked, including cell death.

“Having finally overcome the barrier to demonstrating the role of cathepsins in triggering particle-induced inflammatory cell death, we may now ask what other non-particulate inflammatory pathways may involve cathepsins and why such a role for these enzymes has evolved,” says Dr Gregory M. Orlowski, part of the research team. “Our study sheds light on basic aspects of inflammatory mechanisms that may have far-reaching implications.”

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