Inflammatory villain turns do-gooder

1 min read

Findings suggest new approach to taming inflammation

Many drugs try to tame inflammation by inhibiting molecular events occurring at the beginning of the body’s own immune response. But that may thwart the body’s attempt to heal. A team of Harvard Medical School researchers says a better approach may be to enhance the activity of natural compounds that work to resolve an inflammation. A research team headed by Charles Serhan, Harvard Medical School professor of anesthesia at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Bruce Levy, assistant professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, discovered that a natural substance, prostaglandin E2, thought to incite inflammation, is actually doing the opposite — setting the stage for resolving inflammation. That is just one of several plot twists offered by the team’s new scenario for how inflammation is resolved in the body. To make the prostaglandin, cells must first produce cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) — the very molecule that many anti-inflammatory drugs inhibit.