Scientists have identified a gene that triggers the inflammatory condition that can lead to the full-body infection sepsis, which may lead to the development of new treatments for the condition. Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research worked with Genentech, a biotechnology company, to identify the gene. Simon Foote, MBBS, DSc, FFSc (RCPA), FAHMS, FTSE, says, “Isolating the gene so quickly was a triumph for the team.”

Scientists at Genentech showed that Gasdermin-D usually exists in cells in an inactive form. When the LPS molecules enter the cells they trigger an enzyme called caspase-11, a kind of chemical hatchet, to lop the protective chemical cap off Gasdermin-D, which in turn leads the cells to self-destruct, according to the ANU news release. The researchers employed a large-scale forward genetics discovery platform to screen thousands of genes for those involved in the LPS driven self-destruct pathway of cells.

The research team determined that the new gene created the protein Gasdermin-D that triggers cell death as part of the pathway to sepsis. Nobuhiko Kayagaki, PhD, senior scientist from Genentech, said the work will help researchers understand and treat other diseases as well as sepsis, as indicated on the ANU news release. Kayagaki states, “The identification of Gasdermin-D can give us a better understanding not only of lethal sepsis, but also of multiple other inflammatory diseases.”

Chris Goodnow, BVSc, PhD, FAA FRS, co-author of the research paper, says, “This finding is a key that could potentially unlock our ability to shutdown this killer disease before it gets to a life-threatening stage.”

Source: Australian National University