It's not often that one treatment offers therapeutic potential for multiple conditions. However, after more than two decades of research, Gail Besner, MD, principal investigator for the Center for Perinatal Research and pediatric surgeon for the Department of Pediatric Surgery at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and her team have found that this may just be the case with HB-EGF, or heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor.
Having discovered the growth factor in 1990, Dr. Besner most recently conducted two studies in mice published in June in the Journal of Pediatric Surgery that reveal the potential of HB-EGF to protect the intestines from diverse types of injury. The first offers evidence that treatment with the growth factor may help the intestines protect themselves from damage after exposure to radiation therapy.
"Many patients are treated with radiation therapy for pelvic and abdominal cancers each year, and over half suffer from injury to the intestines as a result, which may limit their ability to receive additional therapy," Dr. Besner says. "In the future, treatment with HB-EGF may protect the intestines from this injury, enabling patients to receive more therapy, or at least not suffer as much damage from the radiation."
HB-EGF is a protein that stimulates cells to grow and to move. Cell proliferation and migration are critical to wound healing, including the healing of intestinal wounds. In addition, HB-EGF decreases the production of multiple substances that are formed upon intestinal injury and that would normally act to worsen the injury. This allows the protein to protect the intestine from further harm.
To boost the potential protective potency of HB-EGF, Dr. Besner and her lab directed a second study involving stem cell administration, which is increasingly used to protect organs from injury. "We demonstrated that administration of HB-EGF protects the intestines from injury, and administration of mesench
|Contact: Gina Bericchia|
Nationwide Children's Hospital