Suppressing the immune cell Th17 may help cystic fibrosis patients with a Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection, according to new data.

In the new study, Jay Kolls and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh used a class of drugs, called bromodomain and extraterminal domain (BET) inhibitors, that modify the DNA architecture and change gene expression.

Using immune cells isolated from the lungs of CF patients, the researchers found that BET inhibitors suppressed the response of Th17 cells, as well as the release of inflammatory factors by these cells.

In addition, when a P. aeruginosa lung infection mouse model was used, BET inhibition decreased lung inflammation, suggesting that BET inhibition may be a potential novel candidate for CF treatment.

Researchers warn, however, that BET inhibitors can increase the risk of opportunistic infections, and also influence a variety of physiological processes, which may lead to severe side effects. Choosing highly specific inhibitors is crucial to taking these drugs into clinical trials.

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