New York: There is good news for those seeking a cure to the Kawasaki Disease (KD) - a rare childhood affliction that involves inflammation of the blood vessels.
A team of scientists at Sanford Children’s Health Research Centre in South Dakota, US, has discovered a molecule called ‘THRIL’ that helps regulate the immune response in children suffering from KD.
“THRIL could be a novel biomarker for immune activation and a potential target for inflammatory diseases like KD, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease,” said Tariq Rana, senior author and professor at Sanford Children's Health Research Centre.
According to the study, findings if which appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the new molecule is formed when certain white blood cells - macrophages - are stimulated in response to pathogens.
The team of scientists measured ‘THRIL’ levels in KD samples at different stages and found that levels were at their lowest during the acute stage of the disease when TNF-alpha - a potent cytokine that promotes inflammation - levels are at their highest.
“For some time, we have known that non-coding regions of RNA play important roles in regulating the immune response to microbial pathogens,” added Rana.
“When we realised that THRIL functioned to control the TNF-alpha gene, we wanted to see if it mirrors the progression in inflammatory diseases,” he added.
KD usually occurs in children between ages 1-5, and its cause is still unknown. It is extremely important that an accurate diagnosis be made at the earliest to prevent fatality. However, symptoms of the disease only manifest after about five days of its onset. By that time, the damage to the coronary vessel might have already been done.
Symptoms of the disease include red eyes, red lips, and redness on the palm of their hands and soles of their feet - all signs of inflamed blood vessels.
Kawasaki syndrome was first described by Tomisaku Kawasaki in Japan in 1967. Various reports published in international journals showed that the prevalence of the disease had been on the rise in almost all countries.
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