Study may lead to more effective drugs

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Researchers have discovered a previously unknown function for a protein that could add to the arsenal of inflammation-fighting drugs.

Scientists from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center report in Developmental Cell that a protein called TRPC6 mediates a molecular pathway critical to repair processes following various forms of injury caused by disease. 

After injury, the TRPC6-controlled pathway prompts cells called fibroblasts to change into myofibroblasts, which secrete a substance called extracellular matrix, an important building block needed for wound healing and tissue remodeling, which includes inflammation and scarring.

“Our study suggests that a TRPC inhibitor could be a good anti-fibrotic or anti-inflammatory agent,” said investigator Jeffery Molkentin, Ph.D.

“As well, activation of the TRPC pathway with an agonist compound could be used in select situations to enhance wound healing.”

Although the body needs a certain amount of inflammation and scarring to heal, in chronic diseases the process can get stuck in the “on” mode, and lead to fibrosis and complications, according to Molkentin and his colleagues.