Soon researchers may be able to find a better solution for the treatment of diseases that involve abnormal blood vessel growth including wound healing problems and loss of vision. They have identified the proteins that are critical to wound healing.
In a research done at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, scientists have found that mice without two important proteins of the vascular system grow normally and also look healthy until they are injured. When they are injured, the wounds do not heal properly. The finding of the research has very big implications.
The results of the research will help in the treatment of different diseases which generally involve abnormal blood vessel growth. These diseases include wound healing problems in diabetes, loss of vision due to macular degeneration etc.
The scientists studied fibroblast growth factors, or the FGF family of proteins. What are these? FGF proteins work as signalling molecules and play a big role in wound healing besides embryonic development and tissue maintenance. These proteins are important as they interact with specific receptor molecules, FGFRs. FGFRs are present on the surface of different types of cells present in the human body.
Whenever your body is injured, new blood vessels grow to start the healing process. For the growth of the new vessels, blood cells and the cells present in the lining of the interior of blood vessels are important. In the study, the scientists shut down the signalling of FGFR1 and FGFR2 proteins. These are the two major mediators necessary for the FGF signal.
When the signals were shut down, even then the mice looked completely normal and they grew like any other normal mouse. When the mice were injured, however, the healing process was very slow in comparison to the normal mice. Scientists also measured the blood vessels present in the injury site and found that they were significantly less in the specific mice without the proteins.
In case of any injury, blood vessels also grow in the eye if there is an injury or disease. Scientists checked the eyes of the mice without the proteins. However, new blood vessels are not desirable in the eye because in case of any injury, it can cause the formation of scar tissue and thereby block light from going to the retina.
The new study suggests that if the FGF signalling is increased, it may help in formation and the growth of new blood vessels after an injury. It will improve wound healing in patients. It will pay much more beneficial for patients who suffer from slow or no healing like people suffering from diabetes. Human FGF2 is already available for clinical use in Japan where it is used as a topical spray for foot ulcer and wound healing.
In the same way, by inhibiting the work of the signalling proteins in the eye will help patients with age-related macular degeneration or people suffering from diabetic retinopathy. Inhibiting the proteins will store growth of new blood vessels in the eye due to disease or injury and so they won't be able to obscure vision of the patients.
The researchers also found that the FGF pathways is not involved in normal development and tissue maintenance. It means the treatments for boosting or inhibiting the signals will not affect the healthy tissues of the patient.
In case of diabetic patients, the blood vessels of the retina of fragile because of the effect of the disease. Physicians often hesitate to use any targeted therapy because that may damage the normal vessels. Now by inhibiting FGF signal in the eye will not harm normal vessels and will help the physicians to keep away any possible eye problems for the patients.