Prelims level : Biotechnology Mains level : Science and Technology
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Why in News:

  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur have identified and characterised a novel small protein molecule that can effectively control inflammation leading to better treatment outcomes.


  • Hyper inflammation destroys the tissues surrounding the inflamed area leading to inflammation disorders such as sepsis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
  • A small protein (C5a) that is a part of the innate immunity (immediate defence against pathogens that have never been encountered before) gets activated when a pathogen enters the body. The C5a protein then binds to a particular receptor (C5aR1) found on the surface of certain cells such as macrophages and neutrophils to begin the process of inflammation and pathogen clearance. Neutrophiles are already present in the body and circulate in the blood. Once the small protein binds to the C5aR1 receptor found on neutrophils, there is increased migration towards the site of infection leading to hyper inflammation. Binding of the small protein to the receptor on macrophages reduces the amount of a pro-inflammatory cytokine called interleukin-6 (IL-6) that is released, which is desirable to overcome inflammatory symptoms.

C5a protein:

  • C5a is a protein fragment released from cleavage of complement component C5 by protease C5-convertase into C5a and C5b fragments.
  • It leads to the formation of the Membrane Attack Complex (MAC), one of the most basic weapons of the innate immune system, formed as an automatic response to intrusions from foreign particles and microbial invaders. C5a is a chemotactic agent and an anaphylatoxin. It is essential in the innate immunity but it is also linked with the adaptive immunity. The increased production of C5a is connected with a number of inflammatory diseases.

Interleukin 6

  • Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is an interleukin that acts as both a pro-inflammatory cytokine and an anti-inflammatory myokine. In humans, it is encoded by the IL6 gene.
  • In addition, osteoblasts secrete IL-6 to stimulate osteoclast formation.
  • Smooth muscle cells in the tunica media of many blood vessels also produce IL-6 as a pro- inflammatory cytokine. IL-6’s role as an anti-inflammatory myokine is mediated through its inhibitory effects on TNF-alpha and IL-1, and activation of IL-1ra and IL-10.
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