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Cantabrians working towards new anti-inflammatory drugs

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Thursday 27 October 2011 10:32am

Chlorine bleach is a common item in the household cleaning cupboard. But this very toxic chemical is also produced by white blood cells in our bodies during inflammation in numerous diseases. Now potential new drugs may be targeted against bleach thanks to novel research by University of Otago, Christchurch, researchers.

Professor Tony Kettle and his team from the Free Radical Research Group have been working for the past decade on new drugs to treat the painful problem of inflammation.

Their focus has been on the action of chlorine bleach in the body, and its ability to cause inflammatory tissue damage. Most of this work has been strongly supported by grants from the Health Research Council.

The results of their work were this week published in the world’s leading biochemistry publication, the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

This work is of interest because it shows that new anti-inflammatory drugs can be developed to stop production of chlorine bleach in diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, emphysema and even atherosclerosis.

Kettle says the publication is exciting because it is likely to lead to the development of new anti-inflammatory drugs. Eventually it may be possible to stop bleach from damaging the lungs of children with cystic fibrosis or eroding joints of people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Kettle says the work was done in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company AstraZenca in Sweden.

“We helped them screen over a million compounds to find a handful of potentially good candidate drugs. We then showed how they blocked production of bleach. This enabled scientists at AstraZeneca to develop even more potent compounds. Work is continuing to find safe and effective drugs that will eliminate chlorine bleach as a problem in inflammation."

For further information, contact

Professor Tony Kettle
Tel 64 27 712 7222

Kim Thomas
Senior Communications Advisor
Tel 64 27 222 6016

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