A study led by scientists from the Molecular Biology Institute of Barcelona (IBMB) of the CSIC has identified a molecule that could counteract the effect of the toxic peptides that cause celiac disease. The molecule studied is neprosin, which is found naturally in the digestive fluid of the carnivorous plant Nepenthes ventrata, the CSIC explained in a statement on Friday. As revealed by the work, led by the researcher F. Xavier Gomis-Rüth and whose first signatories are the researchers Laura del Amo-Maestro and Soraia Mendes, all from the IBMB-CSIC, neprosin is a promising treatment option for celiac disease . The study, published in the journal “Nature Communications”, has deciphered the mechanism of action of the molecule, its structure, as well as its most relevant characteristics for a possible treatment of the disease. The results of the work show that neprosin can degrade the 33-mer peptide -one of the main triggers of celiac disease- before it reaches the intestine, which could prevent this autoimmune inflammatory response. “A promising route is molecules that destroy toxic peptides, and that can be administered orally, similar to the lactase tablets that people who are lactose intolerant take,” explained Gomis-Rüth. Such a treatment should contain a molecule capable of breaking down toxic peptides and be harmless to the intestine; it should be efficient enough to degrade a fair amount of toxic peptides at reasonable doses; and should be active before passing into the intestine. “The studies we have carried out have allowed us to verify that neprosin has enormous potential to be developed as a medicine, since it is much more active in the extreme conditions of digestion in the stomach than other candidate proteolytic enzymes currently under study, collectively called ‘glutenases’, for its therapeutic application, and meets all the characteristics that are required a priori for an efficient glutenase”, Gomis-Rüth has indicated. The researcher explained that the next step will be to carry out more specific tests to verify this potential before moving on to clinical trials and working with mutant molecules that may be even more efficient.
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