Scientists Move Closer to Developing New Drugs

The researchers have found an important target that holds significant promise for millions of people suffering from allergies, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and a range of other inflammatory diseases. This work confirms that a key component of the body's own response to allergy-causing agents can be targeted to reduce allergic reactions in mice.

The BBSRC team led by Professor Bart Vanhaesebroeck has shown that by targeting a molecule called p110delta it is possible to interfere in the allergic reaction before symptoms occur, but without shutting down the immune system. p110delta is a member of a family of eight proteins called PI3Ks, which control important biological functions. Their activity is implicated in many different diseases including cancer and they are an important target for drugs. However, drugs that act on all PI3K family members tend to be toxic in the body. For this reason Vanhaesebroeck’s team uses genetic techniques to find out which PI3K family members are linked to specific diseases. By gaining a better understanding of each PI3K they hope to target drugs more specifically and reduce the potential for side effects.

The p110gamma member of the PI3K family had previously been implicated in allergic reactions and was thought to be more important than p110delta. However, in the current study, Vanhaesebroeck's team has confirmed that p110delta, but not p110gamma, is important for allergic reactions in a mouse model. These results will help to inform and drive decisions in industry to prioritise which PI3K family members should be targeted for further investment and development. The next step to develop p110delta blockers is now ongoing in industry, and is expected to proceed into the preclinical arena in humans in the near future.; Source: Rockefeller University