Inflammation can be both helpful and harmful to our bodies. At the first sign of trouble, immune cells, like the computer-visualised macrophage pictured above, send out protein messengers to muster cellular troops to deal with the assault. These troops switch on the inflammatory response, which prevents overwhelming infection.
However, in creating a hostile environment for invaders, inflammation also creates a hostile environment for our body tissue, so having an ‘off-switch’ is crucial. New research has led scientists to believe that a protein called p62 (green) rapidly silences the alarm bell by labelling the relevant proteins for destruction in a cellular ‘bin-liner’ (visualised in yellow).
Scientists hope that this breakthrough can help further the understanding of the inflammatory response, and perhaps help to treat autoimmune diseases.