Following nature's lead

Antagonizing the function of a signaling molecule by binding it with a soluble receptor for the molecule is a general strategy developed by nature to regulate several physiologically relevant ligands, for example cytokines in the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) superfamily. That model may provide researchers with a fast and simple way to design therapeutic candidates that regulate the TNF family as well as other classes of signaling molecules.

Perhaps the most notable example of a soluble receptor that has gone through clinical development is Immunex Corp.'s Enbrel TNF receptor. Last week the company