hope for treatment thanks to bats


  • Researchers have discovered that bats harbor a protein capable of fighting inflammation.
  • Called ASC2, it would help slow down aging and fight against inflammatory diseases such as covid-19 or arthritis.
  • The scientific team will now study the possibility of producing treatments thanks to their discovery.

“Bats have attracted a great deal of attention as a probable reservoir of the SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic. But this unique ability to harbor, while surviving, viral infections could also have a very positive impact on human health if we can understand and exploit how they achieve this”, explains Professor Wang Lin-Fa of Duke-NUS Medical School (Singapore). Indeed, by working on the animal, the researcher made an interesting discovery for humans: the bat harbors a protein capable of slowing down aging and treating inflammatory diseases such as covid-19, arthritis or even heart disease.

A bat protein fights inflammation

The scientist and his team searched for a solution to combat inflammasomes. These multiprotein complexes can cause significant inflammatory reactions, responsible for serious symptoms in many diseases. They are also involved in aging.

Their work, published in the journal Cell on May 11, 2023, show that a protein present in bats, called ASC2, has the ability to inhibit these inflammasomes… and also, by domino effect, to limit inflammation in the body.

“This suggests that high-level ASC2 activity is a key mechanism by which bats control inflammation, with implications for their longevity and unique virus reservoir status.”says Dr. Matae Ahn, first author and co-correspondent of the study, in a press release from his establishment.

Inflammatory disease: soon a treatment thanks to bats?

The Singaporean team discovered that the anti-inflammatory effect of the bat protein ASC2 comes from four amino acids. “This provides valuable information for the development of drugs that can mimic the anti-inflammatory effect of bat protein”say the researchers.

To check if the protein could have an effect on humans, the scientists tested it on mice. The results look promising: she “mitigated inflammation and reduced the severity of illness caused by various triggers, including viruses”says researcher and first co-author Vivian Chen.

The researchers will now study how to use their discovery in order to “to develop a new class of anti-inflammatory drugs for human inflammasome-mediated diseases”.

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