from the April 2013 issue

Researchers from BGU have generated a promising drug candidate for the treatment of Psoriasis

Researchers from the Department of Life Sciences and the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in collaboration with Teva pharmaceutical industries LTD. have engineered a natural immune system receptor into a promising drug candidate for the treatment of Psoriasis.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that affects millions of people, causes great suffering, and costs billions to health care systems worldwide. The main reason for the outbreak of Psoriasis is the disturbance of the natural balance between pro-inflammatory signals and signals that inhibit inflammation. In Psoriasis the outcome of this imbalance is inflammation and unregulated division of the skin cells.

One of the key signals involved in the progression of Psoriasis is the immune system protein Interleukin 17 (IL-17). In a paper just published in the journal Chemistry and Biology entitled: "Directed Evolution of a Soluble Human IL-17A Receptor for the Inhibition of Psoriasis Plaque Formation in a Mouse Model", Dr. Marianna Zaretsky and Prof. Amir Aharoni from BGU together with Dr. Liora Sklair-Tavron, Dr. Joel Kaye and Revital Etzyoni from Teva developed a method to inhibit IL-17 pro-inflammatory signals.

The team engineered the extra-cellular soluble domain of IL-17 receptor to bind with high affinity to the natural IL-17 protein. The engineered IL-17R was developed by a directed evolution approach, in which an ensemble of mutants is screened for improved properties.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report April 2013

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