Researcher recognized for proposed treatments for inflammatory diseases

March 7, 2011 | Research, UToday
By Samantha Pixler

The research of a UT professor and his team on treatments for inflammation was published in Molecular Interventions, the journal of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.



Dr. Salahuddin Ahmed, assistant professor of pharmacology, and his team of researchers wrote the review article, “Fractalkine/CX3CL1: A Potential New Target for Inflammatory Diseases.” The article appeared in the October 2010 issue of the prestigious journal.

Brian A. Jones, a 2010 pharmaceutical sciences graduate, and Maria Beamer, research assistant in Ahmed’s lab, were co-authors of the research article.

“I was more contented with the aspect that our bachelor of science in pharmaceutical sciences undergraduate student was one of the authors on the manuscript,” Ahmed said. “This underlines our commitment to produce quality graduates with a much deeper understanding of the field of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences that they get here at the college, which serves as a launch pad for their research careers.”

Fractalkine/CX3CL1 is a unique chemokine that performs multiple functions, including the attraction of inflammatory cells from the circulating blood. Chemokines are small molecular weight proteins that attract the inflammatory blood cells at the location of tissue injury, such as inflamed joints in rheumatoid arthritis.

Fractalkine/CX3CL1 produces certain adhesion proteins that will grab these inflammatory cells locally and facilitate their infiltration in the affected joints, which results in persistent inflammation and tissue destruction. Ahmed hopes that therapeutic approaches to inhibit the excessive production of Fractalkine/CX3CL1 can be designed to treat cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Along with the research in the role of chemokines in inflammatory diseases, Ahmed and his team also have been studying the effects and benefits of using green tea to fight rheumatoid arthritis.

“Our main focus of research is to test the preventative and therapeutic benefits of the green tea extract and a potent anti-inflammatory compound found in green tea, known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed said he has been studying green tea extract and EGCG for almost a decade to nail down the exact mechanism of the efficacy of green tea and EGCG in suppressing inflammation and tissue destruction in rheumatoid arthritis.

Using traditional research, Ahmed has found while administering green tea/EGCG to rats susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis, there is less severity of swelling and inflammation in the joints. This research suggests that the same could be applied to humans as well.

Ahmed’s team is testing the benefits of green tea on the cells isolated from the synovial tissues from the people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. His findings may further lead to the testing of green tea and EGCG in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis through controlled clinical trials.

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