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Synthetic molecules to treat Crohn's and rheumatoid arthritis

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Scientists have figured out how to treat treat autoimmune diseases in mice. Researchers at Weizmann Institute have created a synthetic molecule that c...

Scientists have figured out how to treat treat autoimmune diseases in mice. Researchers at Weizmann Institute have created a synthetic molecule that can treat the inflammatory condition and put a key enzyme at bay preventing the body from attacking its own tissues.

The scientists blocked an enzyme called MMP9 (or matrix metalloproteinase enzyme). That enzyme is necessary in the production of proteins that help our bodies perform wound healing for instance. However, the enzyme is known to "get out of control."

So the scientists created a synthetic molecule that can target the enzyme at its active site (but not directly). It works just like a vaccine does -- by tricking the body to create antibodies that block the enzyme at its active site.

Irit Sagi of the Biological Regulation Department said in a statement:

'We are excited not only by the potential of this method to treat Crohn's, but by the potential of using this approach to explore novel treatments for many other diseases.'

The research was published in Nature Medicine.

via Eurekalert

Photo via Flickr/ MookieLuv

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure