Groundbreaking research linking an immune protein to the debilitating condition of virus-induced arthritis and viral exacerbation of rheumatoid arthritis, is set to have important implications for drug development.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, the research has resulted in the first scientific paper to specifically link a protein called MIF(macrophage migration inhibitory factor) with the disease following viral infection.
MIF is normally found in low levels in the joints, with the protein’s link to rheumatoid arthritis being well documented. The findings opened up opportunities to develop anti-inflammatory drugs which will target the receptors bound by MIF.
“MIF is known to bind to receptors which cause inflammation in the joints. New drugs can now be developed to target MIF in order to neutralise it and prevent it binding to a receptor. The best part is that blocking MIF does not compromise antiviral immunity,” the study authors said.
The research was also applicable to other viral infections which result in tissue inflammation such as Dengue Fever and pneumonia, they added.