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Researchers identify molecule that causes destructive lung inflammation in cystic fibrosis patients

PITTSBURGH Nov. 6, 2006 Scientists at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC have identified a protein that is critical to the development of inflammation during lung infection in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). The identification of this protein, called interleukin-23 (IL-23), is an important finding that gives researchers a specific target for developing new therapies.

In June 2005, Children's and University of Pittsburgh researchers led by Children's pulmonologist and immunologist Jay K. Kolls, MD, reported that IL-23 and another cytokine, interleukin-17, are elevated in CF patients with chronic lung infections. The latest research by Dr. Kolls and Children's pulmonologist Patricia Dubin, MD, pinpoints IL-23 as the crucial mediator to this inflammatory response. Results of this study are now published online in the American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

Many patients with CF develop chronic lung infections from a strain of bacteria known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. During chronic infection, the inflammatory response is never "shut off", and the continuous inflammation, mediated by IL-23 and other cytokines, may eventually lead to lung damage.

"Understanding the role IL-23 plays in the inflammatory pathway of CF patients is a major step forward that could lead to the development of new therapies to block this inflammation," said Dr. Kolls, chief of the Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Allergy and Immunology at Children's and professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "For patients with chronic infections associated with CF, this eventually could mean a prolonged life span and an improved quality of life."

Examining IL-23's importance in the inflammation pathway is a "new and different" approach than that taken by other CF researchers, according to Dr. Dubin, an assistant professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Med
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Contact: Marc Lukasiak
marc.lukasiak@chp.edu
412-692-5016
Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
6-Nov-2006


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