German researchers have for the first time discovered the hitherto unknown effect of an organic substance. A team of researchers at the Institute for Infection Research “Twinkur” and the “Helmholtz” Institute for Pharmaceutical Research in the German state of Saarland analyzed the organic substance, ‘straconic acid’, known for its ability to improve the human immune system. The results of this study were recently published in the famous scientific journal “Nature Metabolism”, as well as on the German medical website “Heilpraxis”.
What is straconic acid?
The three substances: itaconic acid, misconic acid, and straconic acid are naturally present in the human body, as explained by the researcher supervising the study, Dr. Frank Besler. These three substances are present in all living things. Bessler and his team of researchers were able to detect the three substances in the lymph nodes and spleen for the first time in 2021.
Both systems play a major role in the immune system. Bessler explains that they have shown through research that straconic acid in particular has a huge potential in developing new drugs that improve cell protection, inhibit viruses and strengthen the immune system.
What is its role in the body?
According to the team of researchers, straconic acid has many positive effects on the immune system, and Bessler confirms: “We discovered that straconic acid activates an important signaling pathway in the immune system,” referring to the “NRF2” pathway, a powerful protein found in every cell of the immune system. The body controls antioxidant and inflammatory processes, which can protect cells from harmful effects. Straconic acid develops a stronger effect at this stage than the other two organic substances: itaconic acid and mesaconic acid.
Influenza virus inhibitor
In another experiment, the researchers made human cells infected with influenza viruses and treated the cells with citraconic acid at the same time. The team noted that this substance has a tremendous ability to inhibit the pathogens of inflammation. Also in this series of tests, it was found that straconic acid has antiviral properties, as it almost completely prevented the spread of virus particles in the body from infected cells.
Straconic acid can also help treat coronavirus. Bessler and his team hope that new drugs based on citraconic acid can be developed that can help with serious viral infections such as influenza and corona.
blood poisoning treatment
Citraconic acid can also be used in case of “sepsis”, which often occurs as a complication of infection or post-operatively. The researchers also discovered that citraconic acid inhibits the production of itaconic acid. “The administration of citraconic acid can lead to an increase in the functioning of the immune system,” says Fang Fang Xin, from the research team. According to the researcher, this can be used in a targeted manner, for example, in order to strengthen the immune system in severe and advanced cases of septicemia.
“Other research groups have shown that itaconic acid can promote the growth of some tumors,” Besler stresses. Given that citraconic acid inhibits itaconic acid, a new class of cancer drugs based on stearic acid may emerge. Bessler revealed that he and his team had applied for a patent for the medical use of citraconic acid.