Complications arising from preterm birth are a leading cause of infant mortality worldwide. Inflammation is strongly associated with preterm birth and the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-1 is implicated and, therefore, a therapeutic target. However, inhibitors of IL-1 are relatively ineffective at delaying labour and can cause serious side effects.
Taking a different approach, researchers at the CHU Sainte-Justine research centre at the University of Montreal in Quebec developed a small-molecule allosteric modulator of IL-1, termed rytvela or 101.10. When given to mice, the molecule halted inflammation-induced preterm birth and was shown to decrease expression of proinflammatory genes in myometrial tissue and circulating leukocytes.
Selective inhibition of IL-1 receptor signalling therefore represents a novel strategy to prevent some causes of preterm birth, the researchers write in The Journal of Immunology on 24 August 2015