NOV 24, 2016 9:35 AM PST

Controlling Chronic Inflammation with UV Light to Quell Disease Symptoms

WRITTEN BY: Jennifer Ellis
Chronic inflammation can be a contributory factor in many leading causes of death, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It can also be a primary cause of several severe diseases such as asthma, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis and Crohn's disease. Researchers at Cornell University have created a chemical tool that can control inflammation in targeted tissues, which could change the process for treating chronic inflammation without harming healthy tissue.
Examples of diseases in which chronic inflammation plays a primary role (Dr. Judi Moore)
The group led by Pamela Chang, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology, and Bibudha Parasar, a graduate student in Chang's lab, worked to find a way to inhibit certain enzyme pathways that are known to activate the inflammation reaction using UV light. The study, published in Chemical Science, could also open up new approaches to learning more about the immune system and how we can modulate other inflammation pathways.
 
"We are pushing the forefront of developing new technologies to control inflammation and the immune system, with the ultimate goal of being able to study these biological pathways and perhaps develop therapies for inflammatory diseases," Chang said.

The immune system is controlled by inflammatory molecules produced by immune cells such as macrophages and dendritic cells. These molecules in turn are regulated by enzymes such as histone deacetylases (HDACs) that activate and deactivate related genes to promote inflammation. The team identified inhibitors of the HDACs that suppress the inflammatory response and created a probe to specifically activate these inhibitors, but only in the presence of UV light.
 
An HDAC inhibitor molecule was synthesized with an attached photolabile protecting group, essentially a chemical release mechanism that is cleaved upon UV light activation which then releases and activates the attached molecule. The HDAC inhibitor can then enter an activated macrophage cell and inhibit inflammatory processes to reduce inflammation.
The HDAC inhibition reaction (Parasar and Chang, 2016)
The UV light activation allows the chemical probe to be targeted to specific tissues. This is important because HDACs are used as regulators for other pathways in addition to inflammation regulation. If all HDACs were inhibited, there would be damage to tissues caused by inhibition of unrelated pathways in cells. By developing a system where UV light is used to target only specific areas of chronic inflammation, inflammatory diseases can be treated effectively without harming healthy tissue.

"If you turned off all the HDACs in the body, you would probably be hitting a lot of pathways that you didn't want to turn off," said Chang. "We can control when and where we turn off the HDACs using light. The idea is that you can actually target the tissue that has chronic inflammation and regulate it by selectively inhibiting HDACs in the tissue that's affected."

Sources: Royal Society of Chemistry, phys.org, MedicalXpress
About the Author
  • I love all things science and am passionate about bringing science to the public through writing. With an M.S. in Genetics and experience in cancer research, marketing and technical writing, it is a pleasure to share the latest trends and findings in science on LabRoots.
You May Also Like
OCT 30, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
OCT 30, 2019
Advancing Nanocontainers for Drug Delivery
Nanocontainers work by delivering drugs to a localized region in the body, many chemotherapeutics work in that matter. The high specificity of this drug de...
OCT 31, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 31, 2019
Neutron Star Merger Fused Atomic Nuclei, Spilled Out Heavy Element
It is safe to say that we live in a world of hydrogen and helium, the lightest elements in the periodic table. Born minutes after the Big Bang, the two mak...
DEC 01, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
DEC 01, 2019
Using CRISPR/Cas9 to Modify Chemical Reactions in Cells
Since the CRISPR gene editor was created, researchers around the world have tweaked and refined the tool to use it in a variety of ways....
DEC 03, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 03, 2019
Wanna Venture Outside of the Solar System? Try a "Skyhook"
Rocket engines are expensive to build, and their speed and the distance of travel are also limited by their own weight and the fuel they carry. But there&#...
JAN 28, 2020
Technology
JAN 28, 2020
Portable device analyzes microbes in the environment
Aquatic microbes often serve as challenge to study, after all, they are too tiny to detect. But, what if there was a device that can swiftly analyze aquati...
FEB 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 16, 2020
Just How Powerful is a Piece of Space Debris?
One of the most commonly discussed topics in space science today is the space junk problem, in which space junk collides with objects to create space debri...
Loading Comments...