BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 16 (UPI) -- A U.S. biology professor says he's found a connection between the cellular innate immunity network and chronic inflammatory diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.
Virginia Tech Associate Professor Liwu Li says his finding presents a viable cellular and molecular target for diagnosis and treatment of all neurodegenerative diseases.
Li's group has defined a key cellular protein kinase named interlukin-1 receptor associated kinase 1, or IRAK-1, that's critical for processing diverse inflammatory signals, including microbial products, cytokines, and insulin.
Li discovered excessive IRAK-1 activation is linked with the risk of atherosclerosis and diabetes. Using transgenic mice without the IRAK-1 gene, Li's group demonstrated that IRAK-1 deficient mice are protected from developing atherosclerosis and insulin resistance.
Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc. filed a patent application for Li's discovery and its use as a diagnostic tool and treatment strategy.
"This technology will still take some time before there is a product," Li said.
The most recent publication from Li's group appears in the journal Molecular Immunology.