Scientists from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have developed a molecule that inhibits a key inflammation trigger and prevents the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). Results from this research have been published in the journal Nature Communications.

This small drug-like molecule called WEHI-345 binds to and inhibits receptor interacting protein kinase 2 (RIPK2), a key immune signaling protein, which prevents the release of inflammatory cytokines. When WEHI-345 was used in preclinical models after the first onset of MS symptoms, disease progression was prevented in 50% of the cases.

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Scientists plan to utilize WEHI-345 to further study the cytokine pathway to develop a stronger RIPK2 to treat inflammatory disease. Although WEHI-345 delayed, not blocked, the signaling pathway, researchers report it was enough to completely shut off cytokine production. The study findings may help identify future drug targets to control inflammation.

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