Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast have discovered a novel mechanism in treating chronic lung conditions like cystic fibrosis (CF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The symptoms of the diseases were found to alleviate by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme cathepsin S, which is usually found associated with increased lung inflammation.
“We know that this enzyme plays a key role in provoking symptoms of chronic lung diseases such as CF and COPD. We have now discovered that treatment to target this specific enzyme can significantly reduce inflammation, lung damage and mucous obstruction, key hallmark features of CF and COPD.” said the lead investigator, professor Cliff Taggart from the Wellcome-Wolfson Centre for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University in a press statement.
The study involved mice models for cystic fibrosis like condition. The mice were crossed with cathepsin S null mice which produced mice which exhibited decreased pulmonary inflammation, mucous obstruction and structural lung damage. Those mice treated pharmacologically to inhibit the enzyme CatS showed a significant decrease in pulmonary inflammation, lung damage and mucous plugging in the lungs. Inhibition of the CatS target, protease-activated receptor-2 (PAR-2), in CF mice models resulted in a reduction in airway inflammation and mucin expression indicating a role for this receptor in CatS-induced lung pathology.
The research thus highlights the role of CatS as a potential drug target in treating chronic lung disorders.
The research has been published in European Respiratory Journal and American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.