Oh My Aching Knees!

Understanding of the human body at the cellular and molecular level can help develop new and improved treatments for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. At the University of Leeds, scientists have discovered a new mechenism involving a naturally-occurring protein, thioredoxin, that controls ion channels. Ion channels are proteins on the surface of the cell that act as doorways in and out of the cell. These doorways can let electrically charged atoms (ions) across the cell membrane to carry out different functions, such as blood glucose regulating, heart beat timing, and pain transmission.

Thioredoxin has been found to activate these doorways by donating electrons to it, in a process that Professor Beech compares to "an electronic on-switch". People with inflammatory diseases have high production levels of this thioredoxin protein to protect the body from the stressful and damaging chemical reactions that occur with inflammation. By studying and mimicking this protein, scientists may be able to develop safer and more effective therapeutics.

Source: ‘Electronic switch’ opens doors in rheumatoid joints
Image Source: Wikipedia

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