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Scientific result | Diagnosis and innovative treatment | Immune system
A team from the CEA-IBITECS participated in the
identification of a novel role for an enzyme, the protease MMP-12, in
the immune response to viral infection. The researchers developed an
inhibitor of MMP-12, which enhances the immune response in a rodent
model. This work, published in Nature Medicine, opens the way for the development of new antiviral therapies.
MMP-12, or “zinc macrophage metalloelastase”, is a protease1 produced by
macrophages2 during inflammation. An international collaboration led by the
University of British Columbia (Canada), with the participation of a team from
the CEA-IBITECS, discovered a novel action of MMP-12 during viral infection. On
the one hand, MMP-12 enters the nucleus of infected cells and triggers the
secretion of interferon-alpha, a molecule known for its participation in the
defense of the organism. On the other hand, outside of the cell, this same
MMP-12 controls the desired level of interferon-alpha and degrades the excess
that could be toxic! The intensity of the antiviral response is thereby limited.
Using an inhibitor of MMP-12 that they had previously developed, researchers
from the CEA-IBITECS blocked this second action of MMP-12 in a rodent model,
demonstrating in vivo that this enhances the therapeutic response to viral
infection without toxicity. Additional observations of human cells infected by a
virus appear to confirm this role in humans. The patented inhibitors of MMP-12
could therefore represent a new generation of antiviral treatments. Preclinical
trials are already scheduled.
 An enzyme that hydrolyzes proteins  White blood cell of the immune system
A new transcriptional role for matrix metalloproteinase-12 in antiviral immunity, Nature Medicine
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.