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Finding a “brake” for inflammation

Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, PhD

Inflammation is all about balance. Too little or too much inflammation leads to illness and even death.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists found a protein that helps keep that balance. The protein, named NLRP12, helps stop inflammation. The scientists showed how the protein works: It regulates production of chemical messengers that drive inflammation.

The amount of those chemical messengers increased in immune cells called T cells that lack NLRP12. Inflammatory diseases like colitis and atopic dermatitis were worse when T cells lacked the protein. T cells kill threats that are not eliminated by the body’s first line of defense—the innate immune system.

Other research from the lab of Thirumala-Devi Kanneganti, PhD, of St. Jude Immunology, showed NLRP12 serves the same role in the innate immune system.

“Developing therapies to target NLRP12 might lead to new ways of taming T-cell driven inflammation,” she said. “That might provide relief for patients with a wide range of illnesses, including multiple sclerosis.”

The study appeared in the scientific journal Immunity.

April 21, 2015

Read the news release