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Understanding fibrosis and scarring


Fibrosis

Researchers in Spain and Germany have developed, in human cells and zebrafish, a possible way to deal with fibrosis and scarring within the body.


Fibrosis is an uncontrolled scarring process, often caused by chronic inflammation of various organs in the human body, like the lungs and the liver, which impairs their function. It results from the excessive accumulation of collagen, a key structural protein involved in the formation of scars.


The study, from the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CGR), Barcelona, and the University of Cologne, used peptides - short chains of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins - to block the interaction between two proteins crucial for moving collagen about in cells. 


This was tested in patient-derived human cells and zebrafish and was seen to help maintain the collagen levels needed by the body, while preventing excessive amounts. 


Vivek Malhotra, co-leading author at CGR, said: "Existing treatment options are usually ineffective because they try and fail to mop the excessive collagen up. In this work, we tried a completely different idea: to block the floodgates at the cellular level." 


The next steps include testing the peptides in pig skin models and enhancing them for clinical applications, such as the treatment of autoimmune skin diseases and post-surgery wound healing. 


The full study is published in Nature Communications.


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