The discovery suggests manipulating this mechanism could essentially "switch off" inflammation, which the researchers hope could lead to the development of entirely new anti-inflammatory drugs to treat a host of auto-immune disorders.
When the body is working properly, inflammation is a good thing. It is our natural immune system response to help the body protect itself from harmful external stimuli. But sometimes inflammation can flare up out of control and result in a number of diseases, from simple allergies to more complex gastrointestinal disorders. Inflammation has also recently been suspected to be connected to everything from cancer to depression.
The best treatment we have today for an acute inflammatory flare-up is still an old-fashioned steroidal immunosuppressive drug. These drugs can sometimes have significant negative side-effects and stifle the immune system to such an degree that it makes the patient highly susceptible to other infections.