October 16, 2015

Healing without scarring

Drugs that inhibit the Wnt signaling pathway can regenerate injured skin and may be useful in treating fibromatosis, degenerative joint disease and cancer.

by Sanjay Mishra


Wound healing is a complex biological process that can, in adult mammals, lead to discomforting and ugly fibrotic scar tissues. In contrast, among lower organisms and in fetuses, injuries repair as identically regenerated tissues.

Wounds activate an ancient developmental Wnt/beta-catenin pathway, which Dikshya Bastakoty and Pampee Young, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues have previously shown to be involved in scar formation.

Now in a study published in the FASEB Journal, the team demonstrates that topical application of mechanistically distinct small-molecule Wnt inhibitors can reduce scarring in mice after skin injuries.

They show that inhibiting the Wnt pathway promotes regenerative repair over fibrotic healing. Treatment with Wnt inhibitors improved healing. The healed skin resembled normal, uninjured skin.

This study suggests that Wnt inhibitors can regenerate injured skin. They also may be useful in the treatment of fibromatosis, degenerative joint disease and cancer.

The study was supported in part by Department of Veterans Affairs, private donations and National Institutes of Health grants RR024975, GM081635, GM103926.

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