A National Cheng Kung University research team has discovered that a protein called interleukin (IL)-20 is key to treating osteoporosis, a disease that lowers a person’s bone density, researchers told a press conference in Taipei yesterday.
The discovery by the team led by Chang Ming-shi (張明熙), a professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, was published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine and has drawn attention in academic circles and from the biotechnology industry.
The chief editor of Nature Reviews Rheumatology also commented on the finding in last month’s issue, while the Science-Business eXchange published a cover story reporting on the discovery in the same month.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
IL-20 is a protein secreted by the immune system. When it is overproduced, it causes inflammation and destroys tissue, leading to chronic diseases.
There are two types of bone cells: osteoclasts and osteoblasts. Bone mineral density is determined by the balance between osteoclasts and osteoblasts. The relationship between IL-20 and osteoporosis has never been explored.
Chang’s team discovered that osteoporosis patients have higher than normal amounts of IL-20 in their blood, which suggests that IL-20 is involved in the progression of the disease. IL-20 increases the amount of two proteins important for bone metabolism — RANK on osteoclast precursors and RANKL on osteoblasts — and so stimulates osteoclast formation.
In a cell-based test, the team found that IL-20 antibodies completely inhibited the formation of osteoclasts from stem cells. They then created a mouse model of osteoporosis by removing their ovaries; these mice then showed symptoms of osteoporosis. However, an injection of IL-20 antibody into the mice protected them from osteoporosis and increased their bone mineral density.
The team also generated what are called gene-knock-out mice by permanently removing the IL-20 receptor (IL-20 R1) gene from the mice so that IL-20 was unable to attach to the bone cells. These mice had higher bone mineral density and were protected from osteoporosis even after their ovaries had been removed.
Chang’s team has provided evidence that IL-20 is a novel and undiscovered molecule involved in the formation of osteoclasts — a revolutionary discovery and a significant contribution to basic medicine.
The team has also showed that IL-20 is a novel target for osteoporosis and that the IL-20 antibody could be a potent new anti-osteoporosis drug with a significant effect on biotechnology.
The current anti-osteoporosis drug, denosumab, sold under the trade name Prolia, is an anti-RANKL antibody that was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration last year.
“IL-20 antibody not only blocks the production of IL-20, but also of the protein RANKL. Also, it affects not only osteoclast formation, but also osteoblast function,” Chang said. “If further developed into a therapeutic drug, IL-20 antibody should have many advantages over denosumab.”
Proposed legislation in the US outlines three conditions in which Washington would be authorized to protect Taiwan were China to invade, a report said yesterday. US Representative Ted Yoho this month said he would introduce a Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, which would authorize US military force if China were to invade Taiwan-controlled areas, including its outlying islands. According to a version of the bill obtained by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times), the bill lists three conditions in which a US president would be authorized to use military force to protect Taiwan: If China uses military force
The Supreme Court on Tuesday found four men guilty of attempted murder in the 2017 stabbing of Spanish surfer Ignacio Prio on a Pingtung County beach in the final ruling in the case, sentencing them to three-and-a-half to six years in prison. The defendants had appealed their convictions for attempted murder in the first and second rulings, which had also led to prison sentences ranging from three-and-a-half years to six years. The then-42-year-old Prio went to Jialeshui Beach (佳樂水) near Kenting (墾丁) on March 31, 2017, was attacked after he asked four men to remove their fishing lines from an area
Two new commuter trains are scheduled to be launched in January next year, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said yesterday. The acquisition of EMU-900 commuter train cars is part of the railway operator’s plan to replace 589 train cars that have been in operation for more than three decades. The agency has also placed orders to buy 600 intercity train cars. The first batch of 20 EMU-900 cars is to be delivered to the nation in September, although delivery might be delayed until October due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said. The batch would be formed into two trains of 10
‘IMMORAL, INSINCERE’: Huang Kun-huei said that Ma was ‘distorting history’ in claiming that Lee Teng-hui laid the foundation for the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ Former Presidential Office secretary-general Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) on Saturday rejected former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) claim that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had been a proponent of Beijing’s “one China” principle. Lee, who served as president from 1988 to 2000, died in Taipei on Thursday last week. After visiting the Taipei Guest House on Saturday to pay his respects to Lee, Ma posted on Facebook that “28 years ago on this day” Lee hosted a session of the now-defunct National Unification Council, during which he passed a resolution on the “one China” principle. That resolution became the basis of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s