A group of researchers from the Monash Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia under Dr. Jennifer Fenner have identified a protein that plays a role in the body’s defence system. Protein SOCS1 is an endogenous protein that can improve the body’s ability to fight viral infections. The study, which has been published in Nature Immunology reports that SOCS1 acts like a switch, that tells the body when to inhibit interferon, a protein produced as part of the body’s immune response. The discovery means that the relationship between SOCS1 and interferon can be manipulated and eventually specific diseases can be targeted. As a result resistance to infection can be improved, complications of inflammatory diseases can be reduced and vaccinations can be improved. Dr. Paul Hertzog of the institute’s center for Functional Genomics and Disease said that the discovery might have positive implications on a wide range of incurable diseases. Drugs available as a result from this research are still a decade away, but work on potential therapies and a vaccination is in progress.
As most cells in the body produce SOCS1 it has the potential to become a generic treatment for a range of infectious and inflammatory diseases.
Reference: The Medical Post, March 14, 2006, page 51
Last edited December 6, 2012