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Protein finding could lead to treatment for inflammatory diseases

the immune system's I Kappa Kinase (IKK) complex. The normal function of IKK is to trigger the degradation of a protein that inhibits NF-kB activity. MC160 subsequently causes the IKK complex to fall apart to prevent the phosphorylation process that turns on NF-kB.

"Our findings regarding MC160 provide yet another example of how viruses inhibit NF-kB activation," Shisler said. "So we are starting to get a broader feeling that there is a common mechanism, that of inhibiting NF-kB activity, that all viruses are trying to utilize to survive in the host. What is interesting is that MC160 appears to be doing it in a completely novel way, than any identified before, by focusing on this IKK complex."

Shisler has obtained a patent to pursue the use of MC160, which is only made in skin cells and stays within them, as a therapeutic tool. Painful inflammatory responses caused by cytokine production in rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and similar maladies potentially could be cured by MC160.

It is hoped, she said, that the protein's large size (almost 60 kiloDaltons) can be reduced to smaller, activity-specific peptide regions. Doing so would simplify the preparation of a topical treatment that would inhibit painful inflammatory responses.

The molluscum contagiosum virus that produces MC160 is a distant relative of smallpox and causes a benign, short-lived skin infection in children and sexually active young adults. It is a common disease, with antibodies detected in up to 50 percent of populations tested in numerous studies. The lesions resemble chickenpox (a disease actually caused by a herpes virus) and are often confused as such. There is no treatment.

The incidence of MCV infections has increased with the rise of AIDS. MCV is an opportunistic infection in immunocompromised people, with MCV lesions growing very large and persisting for much longer periods, even years, in this population, Shisler said.

"This virus makes
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Contact: Jim Barlow, Life Sciences Editor
jebarlow@uiuc.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
11-Jan-2006


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