Scientists from the University of Washington have created a new protein that simulates the action of a key immunoregulatory protein, interleukin 2 (IL-2). IL-2 - a powerful anti-cancer drug and an effective means of treatment of autoimmune diseases, but its side effects severely limit its use in clinical applications.
In an article published in «Nature» January 10 Journal, scientists reported on the use of computer programs for protein design, which, according to tests in animal models has the same ability to stimulate T-cells that fight cancer as IL- 2, only without dangerous side effects.
According to the researchers, the new development can help in the treatment of cancer, autoimmune diseases and other disorders.
Established protein was named Neo-2/15, since, in addition to simulate the action of IL-2, it can mimic the action of another IL,, IL-15, which is also considered as an antitumor immunotherapeutic drug.
"Over the past 30 years, scientists have tried to make IL-2 is safer and more efficient, but due to the fact that the natural proteins are not very stable, it was difficult to achieve. Neo-2/15 is very small and very stable. As we developed this protein from the ground, we know it in great detail. It allows us to do Neo-2/15 is even more stable and active "- the researchers reported.
IL-2 is used as a final treatment of patients with cancer in whom no other therapeutic options. The cure rate in some patients with advanced melanoma or renal cell carcinoma with IL-2 therapy may be as high as 7%. However, its use is limited because the drug can take the healthiest patients and only in intensive care units in specialized medical centers.
IL-2 acts on two types of immune cells by binding to the recipes on their surface. Exposure to IL-2 on cell behavior largely depends on the amount and nature of these receptor interactions. Natural IL-2 can activate cells with beta - and gamma receptors responsible for antitumor activity. However, the preferred interleukin binding with other types of immune cells that have alpha-receptors in addition to gamma- and beta-receptors. These cells cause disastrous side effects such as severe toxicity, and immunosuppression. To date, unfortunately, all approved therapies IL-2 mainly cause the activation of these non-target cells.
However, the new protein is not primarily associated with the cells, which constitute a danger. It activates target cells that fight cancer, not touching the target cells responsible for toxicity and immunosuppression.
New research indicates that the creation of proteins from scratch can lead to biocompatible molecules with improved therapeutic properties and less significant side effects.