IL-17 inhibitors: good news, bad news

New partnerships and release of Phase III data highlight a flurry of activity this summer around the autoimmune target IL-17A. Now, emerging research suggests companies developing inhibitors of IL-17A signaling have both a repurposing opportunity and a new safety concern to navigate.

Findings by the Genentech Inc. unit of Roche suggest IL-17A inhibitors could treat cancers that are resistant to VEGF inhibitors.1 However, an academic team from Sweden and the U.S. reported that blocking IL-17A can destabilize atherosclerotic plaques and thus increase the risk of cardiovascular events.2

IL-17A is a member of the IL-17 family of proinflammatory cytokines, which have roles in allergy and autoimmune diseases. Another member of the family, IL-17F, shares about 50% homology with IL-17A and is involved in airway inflammation in asthma. IL-17A and IL-17F function by binding a heteromeric complex that includes IL-17 receptor (IL17R; IL17RA) and IL-17 receptor C (IL17RC).

Multiple preclinical studies have shown that IL-17 cytokines

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