News of the WeekImmunology

On the Way to a Better Immunosuppressant?

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Science  24 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5436, pp. 2042
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5436.2042a

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When a foreign antigen triggers the immune system's T cells, an intracellular enzyme called calcineurin is activated, thus setting in motion the changes needed to rev up the cells. Current immunosuppressive drugs such as cyclosporin A and FK506 work by blocking calcineurin, but they often have nasty side effects such as kidney failure, diabetes, and an increased risk of cancer. Now, in work described on page 2129, researchers have identified a molecular smart bomb that inhibits calcineurin more selectively--a discovery that could lead to improved immunosuppressants with fewer side effects.