Borrelidin: a novel therapeutic agent for treatment of inflammatory diseases

Inflammation is the body's normal physiological response to injury, infection or foreign substances. While the ability to mount an inflammatory response is essential for survival, the ability to control inflammation is also necessary for health. Inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, Chrohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, allergies, septic shock, atherosclerosis and many others are a group of disorders characterized by uncontrolled or excessive inflammatory responses. Often, clinical intervention is required to prevent tissue damage and organ dysfunction in these disorders. While there have been advances in anti-inflammatory therapies over the years, long term use of steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS,) is limited due to drug-induced toxicities such as stomach ulcer, gastric erosion, exacerbation of asthma and nephrotoxicity. Therefore, the identification of novel agents that can effectively suppress inflammatory responses without associated long term toxicities represent a major unmet medical need. One of the key ways that the body controls inflammation is through the expression of immunoregulatory enzymes. An example of this natural immunoregulation occurs in pregnant mammals: cells of the placenta that surround the fetus express an immunoregulatory enzyme called indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO). IDO expression protects the fetus from being attacked by the mother's immune system. Earlier research has revealed that the small molecule drug, borrelidin, could be used to specifically mimic the signalling effects induced by IDO expression and suppress the action of inflammatory cells. Nadya Ogloff's research builds on this evidence by providing pre-clinical proof-of-principle data to support further development of borrelidin as a potent immunosuppresive agent for treatment of inflammatory diseases.