Scientists discover off-switch for 'molecular machine' active in many diseases
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IMAGE: Researchers have discovered how a molecular ‘machine’ — that drives inflammation in a range of diseases — turns off in healthy cells. view more 

Credit: Kate Schroder, The University of Queensland

A discovery by Queensland scientists could be the key to stopping damage caused by uncontrolled inflammation in a range of common diseases including liver disease, Alzheimer’s and gout.

University of Queensland researchers have uncovered how an inflammation process automatically switches off in healthy cells, and are now investigating ways to stop it manually when it goes awry.

UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) researcher Associate Professor Kate Schroder said this inflammation pathway drove many different diseases.

“Now that we understand how this pathway naturally turns off in health, we can investigate why it doesn’t turn off in disease — so it’s very exciting,” Dr Schroder said.

Her work at IMB’s Centre for Inflammation and Disease Research focuses on inflammasomes, which are machine-like protein complexes at the heart of inflammation and disease.

“These complexes form when an infection, injury or other disturbance is detected by the immune system, and they send messages to immune cells to tell them to respond,” Dr Schroder said.

“If the disturbance can’t be

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