Evidence from human studies suggests that parasitic worm infection can protect humans against rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and this idea is strengthened by data generated in model systems. Although therapeutic use of parasitic worms is currently being explored, there are obvious benefits in pursuing drug development through identification and isolation of the 'active ingredients'. ES-62 is a secreted glycoprotein of the filarial nematode Acanthocheilonema viteae, which we have found to protect against the development of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in mice. ES-62 activity is dependent on the inflammatory phenotype of the local environment and protection arises via inhibition of Th17- and γδT cell-dependent IL-17 production. At the same time, NK and NK T cell IL-17 production is left intact, and such selectivity suggests that ES-62 might make a particularly attractive therapeutic for RA. However, as a potentially immunogenic protein, ES-62 is unsuitable for development as a drug. Nevertheless, ES-62 activity is dependent on covalently attached phosphorylcholine (PC) residues and we have therefore produced a library of PC-based drug-like ES-62 small-molecule analogues (SMAs) as an alternative therapeutic strategy. Screening this library, we have found an ES-62 SMA that mirrors ES-62 in protecting against CIA and by the same IL-17-dependent mechanism of action.
Keywords: ES-62; immunomodulation; rheumatoid arthritis.
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