Washington: In a major breakthrough, US scientists claim to have identified a possible protein trigger responsible for potentially fatal lung disease – sarcoidosis whose cause has been a mystery for nearly a century.
A team at John Hopkins University has discovered the link between sarcoidosis and overproduction of the suspected protein trigger, called serum amyloid A, after a six-year-long investigation involving more than two dozen lab experiments.
"The increase in production of serum amyloid A explains for the first time how inflammation can persist in the lungs without being triggered by an active infection,"
said team member Prof David Moller.
According to lead scientist Edward Chen, the new findings also clear the path for developing drug treatments or vaccines that can block serum amyloid A from binding to cell receptors and kicking off inflammation.
In the `American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine`, the scientists have described their research on what was behind the microscopic clusters of inflamed tissue
and white blood cells, or granulomas, which are a defining feature of sarcoidosis.
Of particular interest to the scientists was the role played by so-called amyloids, a set of proteins known to cause other persistent inflammatory conditions, such as amyloidosis.
Indeed, a different kind of amyloid has been tied to plaques in the brain tissue of people with Alzheimer`s.
Key among the findings in sarcoidosis patients was that serum amyloid A stood out as it was heavily concentrated within the granulomas in diseased and scarred lung tissue.