Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

NIH Scientists Identify Gene Linked to Fatal Inflammatory Disease in Children

Published: Friday, July 18, 2014
Last Updated: Friday, July 18, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Repurposed drugs may offer first potential therapy.

Investigators have identified a gene that underlies a very rare but devastating autoinflammatory condition in children. Several existing drugs have shown therapeutic potential in laboratory studies, and one is currently being studied in children with the disease, which the researchers named STING-associated vasculopathy with onset in infancy (SAVI).

The findings appeared online in the New England Journal of Medicine. The research was done at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), part of the National Institutes of Health.

“Not only do these discoveries have profound implications for children with SAVI, but they could have a broader impact by helping us to understand other, more common inflammatory conditions,” said NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D. “Diseases such as lupus share some characteristics with SAVI, so this work may lead to novel insights and possibly new treatments for these debilitating conditions, as well.”

The senior author of the study, Raphaela Goldbach-Mansky, M.D., and the co-lead authors, Yin Liu, M.D., Ph.D., Adriana A. Jesus, M.D., Ph.D., and Bernadette Marrero, Ph.D., are in the NIAMS Translational Autoinflammatory Disease Section.

Autoinflammatory diseases are a class of conditions in which the immune system, seemingly unprovoked, becomes activated and triggers inflammation. Normally, the inflammatory response helps quell infections, but the prolonged inflammation that occurs in these diseases can damage the body.

In 2004, Dr. Goldbach-Mansky was called upon to advise on a patient with a baffling problem - a 10-year-old girl with signs of systemic inflammation, especially in the blood vessels, who had not responded to any of the medications her doctors had used to treat her.

She had blistering rashes on her fingers, toes, ears, nose and cheeks, and had lost parts of her fingers to the disease. The child also had severe scarring in her lungs and was having trouble breathing. She had shown signs of the disease as an infant and had progressively worsened. She died a few years later.

By 2010, Dr. Goldbach-Mansky had seen two other patients with the same symptoms. She suspected that all three had the same disease, and that it was caused by a genetic defect that arose in the children themselves, rather than having been inherited from their parents, who were not affected. Her hunch suggested a strategy for identifying the genetic defect. By comparing the DNA of an affected child with the DNA of the child’s parents, scientists would be able to spot the differences and possibly identify the disease-causing mutation.

The DNA comparison revealed a novel mutation in a gene that encodes a protein called STING, a known signaling molecule whose activation leads to production of interferon, a key immune regulator. When overproduced, however, interferon can trigger inflammation.

“Blood tests on the affected children had shown high levels of interferon-induced proteins, so we were not surprised when the mutated gene turned out to be related to interferon signaling,” said Dr. Goldbach-Mansky.

When the researchers tested the DNA of five other patients with similar symptoms, they found mutations in the same gene, confirming STING’s role in the disease.

The excessive inflammation observed in patients, along with other evidence of interferon pathway activation, indicated that the mutations in STING boosted the protein’s activity.

Interferon normally works to restrict an invading pathogen’s ability to replicate by triggering a function that stimulates immune cells. But prolonged activation of the pathway leads to chronic inflammation and damage to tissues and organs.

The researchers found that STING was present in high levels in the cells lining the blood vessels and the lungs, which would likely explain why these tissues are predominantly affected by the disease.

Dr. Goldbach-Mansky’s team next looked for ways to dampen the inflammatory response in people with SAVI.

“When mutations that cause autoinflammatory conditions hit an important pathway, the outcome for patients can be dismal,” said Dr. Goldbach-Mansky. “But because SAVI is caused by a single gene defect and interferon has such a strong role, I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to target the pathway and potentially make a huge difference in the lives of these children.”

Several drugs - tofacitinib, ruxolitinib and baricitinib - are known to work by blocking the interferon pathway, so the researchers reasoned that these medicines might be effective in people with SAVI, as well. When they tested the effect of the drugs on SAVI patients’ blood cells in the lab, they saw a marked reduction in interferon-pathway activation.

The researchers are now enrolling SAVI patients in an expanded access program, also known as a compassionate use protocol. Compassionate use protocols allow doctors to give investigational medicines to patients with serious diseases or conditions for which there is no comparable or satisfactory alternative therapy to treat the patient’s disease or condition.

In future work, Dr. Goldbach-Mansky’s team will further delve into STING’s exact role in the interferon pathway and examine how the mutations that cause SAVI lead to interferon overproduction.

“These mutations help us to understand the disease, but they also give us the rare opportunity to study the biology of the STING-mediated immune response,” said Dr. Liu. “We don’t really understand how STING is activated or how the signal gets passed on to downstream molecules, but this work will help advance our understanding of this critically important pathway and its impact on other diseases.”


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,200+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Some Women With PCOS May Have Adrenal Disorder
Researchers at NIH have found that a subgroup of women with PCOS, a leading cause of infertility, may produce excess adrenal hormones.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Manufactured Stem Cells To Advance Clinical Research
Clinical-grade cell line will enable development of new therapies and accelerate early-stage clinical research.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Manufactured Stem Cells to Advance Clinical Research
Clinical-grade cell line will enable development of new therapies and accelerate early-stage clinical research.
Saturday, June 25, 2016
Rates of Nonmedical Prescription Opioid Use Disorder Double in 10 Years
Researchers at NIH have found that the nonmedical use of prescription opioids has more than doubled among adults in the United States from 2001-2002 to 2012-2013.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Peanut Allergy Prevention Strategy is Nutritionally Safe
Early-life peanut consumption does not affect duration of breastfeeding or children’s growth and nutrition.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
NIH Launches Large Study of Pregnant Women in Areas Affected by Zika virus
Researchers at NIH and Fiocruz have begun a study to evaluate the magnitude of health risks that Zika virus infection poses to pregnant women and their developing fetuses and infants.
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
New Imaging Method May Predict Risk of Post-Treatment Brain Bleeding After Stroke
Researchers at NIH have developed technique that provides new insight into stroke.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Study Reveals Central Role of Endocannabinoids in Habit Formation
The new study findings point to a previously unknown mechanism in the brain that regulates the transition between goal-directed and habitual behaviors.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Predicting Effective Drug Combinations For TB
Researchers analyzed gene regulatory networks to explain the effectiveness of an experimental drug combination against drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Genomic Data Commons Launched
Part of the National Cancer Moonshot, the GDC will centralize and standardize accessible data.
Tuesday, June 07, 2016
Prevention May be Essential to Reducing Racial Disparities in Stroke
Researchers at NIH have found study provides clues to differences in stroke deaths between blacks and whites.
Friday, June 03, 2016
NIH Funds Biobank To Support Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program
$142 million over five years will be awarded to the Mayo Clinic to establish the world’s largest research-cohort biobank for the PMI Cohort Program
Friday, May 27, 2016
Advancing Protein Visualization
Cryo-EM methods can determine structures of small proteins bound to potential drug candidates.
Friday, May 27, 2016
New NIH-EPA Research Centers to Study Environmental Health Disparities
Scientists will partner with community organizations to study these concerns and develop culturally appropriate ways to reduce exposure to harmful environmental conditions.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Nanoparticles Target, Transform Fat Tissue
Nanoparticles designed to target white fat and convert it to calorie-burning brown fat slowed weight gain in obese mice without affecting food intake. This proof-of-concept work could lead to new therapies to treat obesity.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Scientific News
Open Source Seed Initiative – A Welcome Boost to Global Crop Breeding
A team of plant breeders, farmers, non-profit agencies, seed advocates, and policymakers have created the Open Source Seed Initiative.
ASMS 2016: Targeting Mass Spectrometry Tools for the Masses
The expanding application range of MS in life sciences, food, energy, and health sciences research was highlighted at this year's ASMS meeting in San Antonio, Texas.
Benchtop Automation Trends
Gain a better understanding of current interest in and future deployment of benchtop automated systems.
Anthrax Proteins Might Help Treat Cancerous Tumors
Studies in mice reveal novel treatment regimen.
New Cancer Drug Target Found in Dual-Function Protein
Findings from a study from TSRI have shown that targeting a protein called GlyRS might help to halt cancer growth.
Key to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is in Your Gut, Not Head
Researchers report they have identified biological markers of the disease in gut bacteria and inflammatory microbial agents in the blood.
HIV Structure Stabilized
Findings represent ‘big accomplishment’ in biomedical engineering and design.
Four Newly-Identified Genes Could Improve Rice
A Japanese research team have applied a method used in human genetic analysis to rice and rapidly discovered four new genes that are potentially significant for agriculture. These findings could influence crop breeding and help combat food shortages caused by a growing population.
New Cancer Drug Target in Dual-Function Protein
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified a protein that launches cancer growth and appears to contribute to higher mortality in breast cancer patients.
Antibodies To Dengue May Alter Course Of Zika Virus Infection
Scientists at Emory Vaccine Center, in collaboration with investigators from Thailand, have found that people infected with dengue virus develop antibodies that cross-react with Zika virus.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,200+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!