Scientists here have made a significant discovery around how inflammation works.

The development could in time lead to new treatments for a range of diseases caused by inflammation, including sepsis, Crohn's disease, psoriasis and Multiple Sclerosis.

The international team, led by researchers at Maynooth University, found a protein called Pellino 2 plays an important role in how the body starts the inflammatory response.

The protein is involved in the triggering of the movement of white blood cells called neutrophils from blood vessels into the tissue that is infected by invading micro-organisms.

Neutrophils kill the infection, but if they linger for too long they can also damage healthy tissue.

"In the case of sepsis, we see inflammation spread rapidly throughout the body as a response to a bacterial infection in the blood, which can lead to life-threatening organ dysfunction," said Professor Paul Moynagh, Director of the Human Health Research Institute at Maynooth University who led the study.

If a method can be found to effectively and safely block or control the protein, then it could in future be developed into a therapy for inflammation.

The research team has had some success with stopping the protein in lab-based models and is now exploring molecules that could potentially be turned into a therapy.

The Science Foundation Ireland funded research also involved scientists in Queen's University Belfast and in China and was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Diseases that cause inflammation can be particularly hard to stop, with sepsis a growing problem around the world.