The 2022 Inflammasome Summit is in the books—well, more accurately, in the notebooks of the in-person attendees who took copious notes. TBH, we haven’t witnessed scribbling like that since freshman history class. Which makes sense because as first in-person inflammasome conference after the pandemic it was history-making. Here are the top 5 takeaways:
- Age is all the rage. Is it possible to reverse or slow down the aging process? According to Kevin Wilhelmsen of Bioage Labs, the answer is quite possibly yes—with inflammasome inhibitors. Aging is linked to chronic inflammation. This process is called “inflammaging”, a hybrid word of inflammation and aging. Chronic inflammation is a byproduct of inflammasome activation: ergo, inflammasome inhibition may increase healthspan or disease-free lifespan, which experimental data supports. Time for a rewatch of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
- Are inflammasome inhibitors a panacea for all ills? Possibly yes on the assumption that all diseases which befall chronically ill patients are the direct or indirect consequence of chronic inflammation. In an excellent workshop, Drs. Richard Gordon from University of Queensland in Australia, and Tamara Seredenina from AC Immune presented evidence that inflammasome activation in the CNS from several causes starts a neuroinflammatory process that self-perpetuates and serves as the driving force behind neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. Dr. Gordon presented promising in vitro and in vivo results with RRx-001 and ibrutinib.
- A good sermon on Gasdermin. This was given by Dr. Theresa Pizarro from Case Western Reserve University. Gasdermin is an inflammasome-associated pore-forming protein that leads to an inflammatory form of cell death. Dr. Pizarro presented evidence that links Gasdermin B, in particular, to several gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.
- Cancer has been described as a wound that never heals. Wounds are associated with inflammation. Dr. Marc Pelletier from Novartis discussed the use of inhibitors of IL-1-beta, since IL-1-beta is a proinflammatory cytokine, for the treatment of cancer.
- Question: what is the most advanced direct NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitor? Answer: RRx-001. Drs. Richard Gordon from University of Queensland in Australia and Bryan Oronsky from EpicentRx gave an interesting and informative presentation on the anti-inflammatory, and anti-neurodegenerative effects of RRx-001 in Parkinson’s Disease.
In summary, inflammasome inhibitors and gasdermin inhibitors are up-and-coming pharmacotherapies for many diseases from Parkinson’s to cancer and possibly even aging. At the next 2023 Inflammasome Summit we’ll make sure to take plenty of notes.