Tags: Discovery | Helps | Reveal | Healing | Process

Discovery Helps Reveal Healing Process

Tuesday, 01 May 2001 12:00 AM

The cellular mechanisms of healing are complex and understanding them can potentially lead to more targeted treatments for wounds. Researchers led by Vito Quaranta at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., found that an integrin-a protein that helps trigger the healing process - also tells cells when to stop healing a wound.

The discovery came when scientists analyzed two different integrins on skin cells. The first integrin is called alpha(3) beta(1) and works as a sort of tug boat that helps cells move along and respond to chemical messages sent out by the wounded tissue. These chemical messages and this first integrin join forces, so to speak, and call on other cells from the bloodstream to move into the wounded area.

The process doesn't end there. Chemical signals result in the release of a sticky layer of proteins on the wound. So how does the body know when to stop this chemical process? That's where the role of the second integrin, called alpha(6) beta(4), comes in.

Quaranta and colleagues found this second molecule, which appears to operate as an anchor, grabs on to that sticky layer of proteins, which includes a substance called laminin 5. Without interfering with the initial cell movement started by the first round of chemical signals, the second integrin essentially blocks laminin 5 by turning off the first integrin. Their findings are reported in the April 30 issue of The Journal of Cell Biology.

"Any kind of mechanism that could help us understand why healing stops or where it's bocked could be of major importance, clinically," Lawrence Hightower, a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn. told United Press International. Wounds heal from the inside out, Hightower explained, and there are many steps in the process "where things could go wrong."

Understanding the chemical transmissions taking place between these essential molecules could help people who struggle with natural wound healing, he said. Radha Maheshwari, a professor of cellular pathology at Uniformed Services University, a military medical center in Bethesda, Md. agrees.

A clearer grasp of how wounds heal and don't heal could help people with compromised immune systems, such as patients with HIV, AIDS, or diabetics who can develop ulcers, he explained. "It's a very complicated system," Maheshwari said. "We still don't know enough." (Reported by Katrina Woznicki in Washington)

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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The cellular mechanisms of healing are complex and understanding them can potentially lead to more targeted treatments for wounds. Researchers led by Vito Quaranta at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., found that an integrin-a protein that helps trigger the...
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2001-00-01
Tuesday, 01 May 2001 12:00 AM
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