Scientists describe a new biological drug capable of restoring the immune system homeostasis

  • The IDIBELL research group on immunoinflammatory processes demonstrates that the C4BP (β-) protein could be a promising therapeutic option for inflammatory bowel disease.
  • The project is supported by CaixaResearch Validate of the “La Caixa” Foundation and has been published in the Journal of Pharmacological Research.

Inflammatory bowel disease comprises a broad and heterogeneous group of autoinflammatory processes that cause chronic and recurrent inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Although it has been shown that individual genetic information, environmental factors and the immune system are key players in the development of these pathologies, their specific causes and the molecular mechanisms that trigger them are still unknown. In fact, genome-wide studies of large groups of patients have revealed that more than 200 genes may be involved in the development of the disease.

The most recent therapeutic strategies for inflammatory bowel disease have focused on the use of molecules aimed at modulating or inhibiting specific components of the immunoinflammatory processes reactions, such as interleukins. However, these molecules have not yet met expectations in terms of efficacy and safety, resulting in a significant percentage of patients who do not respond satisfactorily.

The IDIBELL research group on immunoinflammatory processes, led by researcher Josep Maria Aran, has worked on the development of a biological drug derived from a protein found in the bloodstream, with strong immunomodulatory activity. And it has shown that it is able to reprogram immune cells and resolve immuno-inflammatory processes with great efficiency and without side effects. His research, carried out with CaixaReseach Validate funding from the “la Caixa” Foundation and with the participation of professionals from the gastroenterology service at the Bellvitge University Hospital, showed that this protein restores the homeostasis of the immune system and, thus, has great potential for the treatment of multiple autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases.

The study, published in the Journal of Pharmacological Research, describes in detail the unique mechanism of action of the C4BP (β-) protein, and highlights its therapeutic potential for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease, which is very prevalent in the general population. Using animal models of the disease, the article demonstrates that C4BP(β-) confers a robust anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory phenotype, significantly attenuating histopathological features (such as infiltration of inflammatory immune cells into the colon of mice reproducing the human disease) and preserves the integrity of the intestinal epithelium with the absence of unwanted effects. In turn, the PRP6-HO7 protein, a smaller analogue with only immunomodulatory activity, achieved a similar result to that of the C4BP (β-) protein.

Overall, the results of the group of Dr. Aran point out that the use of C4BP (β-) and, more specifically, its improved version PRP6-HO7, could constitute a promising therapeutic option for inflammatory bowel disease, as they have already demonstrated in experiments with cells derived from ulcerative colitis patients.



The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.

IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).

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