GMRI researchers discover process to treat excessive scarring

keloid copy

Keloid scar affecting a child following burns injury

Fibrotic conditions, characterised by excessive bodily scar formation, affecting various organ systems, currently do not have satisfactory treatment.

But that could be a thing of the past thanks to researchers at the GMRI.

The GMRI team has recently identified the stem cells that cause fibrotic conditions and the proteins that control them.

“We have filed an international patent to protect the discovery of the proteins which regulate the stem cells that form excessive scarring,” says GMRI Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Tinte Itinteang.

“Being the biggest organ and on the surface, skin is most commonly affected by fibrotic conditions, such as keloid scar and Dupuytren’s contracture (a condition that causes contractures of the fingers). Our discovery potentially encompasses fibrotic conditions that affect all other organs including the liver (e.g., liver cirrhosis from viral infection), kidneys and lungs.

“We’re trying to regulate the stem cells so they don’t form the scar excessively, and we believe we may have found a novel way of doing this. To the best of our knowledge it is the first time this process has been identified.”

Dr Itinteang says lodging the patent is a big step for the GMRI, in more ways than one.

“Firstly, it’s pleasing to know we are leading research in this area of discovering novel proteins,” he says.

“The more exciting aspect, though, is the potential to translate this clinically to treat these conditions for which we do not currently have effective treatment.

“There are existing drugs that we can use to modulate these proteins to treat patients with these difficult conditions.”

Dr Itinteang says a clinical trial will be the next stage.

“In some cases we may be able to minimise scarring altogether – it’s an exciting road ahead.”