Worms may reveal insights into wound healing response

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Worms may reveal insights into wound healing response
Worms may reveal insights into wound healing response
California researchers may have found an unlikely key to unlocking the secrets of wound healing in humans: the roundworm.

Biologists at the University of California, San Diego, hope to learn more about the complex processes involved in repairing wounds.

They said such discoveries could lead to new treatments for nursing home residents and others.

Investigators discovered that genes in the laboratory roundworm appear to signal the presence of surface wounds and trigger a series of chemical reactions that allow the worms to quickly close cuts that otherwise could turn fatal.

“What we've shown in this paper is that a biochemical pathway is activated by wounding in the worms that involves calcium,” said Andrew Chisholm, Ph.D., the biology professor who headed the research effort. “It's been known for some time that one of the things that happens when you damage a cell is that calcium levels within the cell increase.”

But in a series of experiments with C. elegans, Chisholm found out much more.

He thinks the lowly roundworms may be the ideal animals to probe that question and others involving wound healing for a variety of reasons. They are small and transparent, and have a delicate surface susceptible to injury and a rapid wound response mechanism that keeps their surface wounds from being fatal.
Full findings appeared in the Dec. 6 issue of the journal Current Biology.
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