Immunosuppressive drugs can form a part of treatment of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or HIV, which arise from inappropriate immune responses. In such instances, the body’s immune system attacks the body, instead of attacking foreign cells. It is to inhibit such a response, the immunosuppressives are pressed into service. Such drugs are also used in organ transplant.
When an organ, such as a liver, a heart or a kidney, is transplanted from one person (the donor) into another (the recipient), the immune system of the recipient triggers the same response against the new organ it would have to any foreign material, setting off a chain of events that can damage the transplanted organ. The immunosuppressant drugs greatly decrease the risks of rejection, protecting the new organ and preserving its function.
Now a study at the Indiana University School of Medicine determined that the antibiotic compound tautomycetin targets an enzyme called SHP2, which plays an important role in cell activities such as proliferation and differentiation. Interestingly, SHP2 mutations are also known to cause several types of leukemia and solid tumors. The findings were reported in the Jan. 28, 2011, issue of the journal Chemistry and Biology.
The potential for developing anti-cancer agents grew out of an attempt to determine how the compound, tautomycetin, exerts its immune suppression activities, said Zhong-Yin Zhang, Ph.D., Robert A. Harris Professor and chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
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