Navigation Links
New genetic path for scleroderma

CHICAGO --- A genetic pathway previously known for its role in embryonic development and cancer has been identified as a target for systemic sclerosis, or scleroderma, therapy. The finding, discovered by a cross-disciplinary team led by John Varga, MD, John and Nancy Hughes Distinguished Professor of Rheumatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, was recently published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.

"We showed, for the first time, that the Wnt signaling pathway is abnormally activated in scleroderma patients," said Varga, who is also a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "This is significant for three reasons. First, it gives a better picture of scleroderma and fibrosis in general. Second, it provides a strategy for assessing disease severity, progression, and activity. And third, it opens a door for the design of treatments that aim to block the Wnt pathway and restore its normal controlled activity."

Varga's laboratory collaborated with a pulmonary team at Northwestern, along with teams at Case Western Reserve University and Dartmouth University on the discovery.

Researchers studied skin and lung biopsies from scleroderma patients and found that the Wnt pathway was 'turned on', in contrast to healthy individuals where the pathway was 'turned off.' Varga said this activation may be due to loss of Wnt inhibitors that normally serve as 'brakes' on the pathway to prevent its activation.

The team also examined what the pathway does using fibroblasts and stem cells from healthy people. They found Wnt causes fibroblast activation and blocks the development of fat cells (adipocytes), which directly contribute to scar formation and tissue damage seen in scleroderma.

Scleroderma is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks itself. It causes progressive thickening and tightening (fibrosis) of the skin and also can lead to serious internal organ damage and, in some cases, death. Scleroderma affects an estimated 150,000 people in the United States, most frequently young to middle-aged women.

"Scleroderma is a complex and poorly understood disease with no cure," said Varga. "Our findings suggest that treatments targeting the Wnt signaling pathway could lead to an effective treatment."

Varga said Northwestern researchers next plan to conduct multi-center preclinical studies to evaluate treatments that block the Wnt pathway in animal models and measure Wnt activity in additional scleroderma biopsies to see if it can be clinically useful as a biomarker.


Contact: Marla Paul
Northwestern University

Related biology news :

1. Genetic research develops tools for studying diseases, improving regenerative treatment
2. First complete full genetic map of promising energy crop
3. Genetic variation in East Asians found to explain resistance to cancer drugs
4. Epigenetics and epidemiology -- hip, hype and science
5. Epigenetic signatures direct the repair potential of reprogrammed cells
6. Genetic survey of endangered Antarctic blue whales shows surprising diversity
7. A foot in the door to genetic information
8. Perception and preference may have genetic link to obesity
9. UC Santa Barbara researchers discover genetic link between visual pathways of hydras and humans
10. Will a genetic mutation cause trouble? Ask Spliceman
11. Nearby chimpanzee populations show much greater genetic diversity than distant human populations
Post Your Comments:
(Date:4/15/2016)... -- Research and Markets has announced the ...  report to their offering.  ,      ... gait biometrics market is expected to grow at ... Gait analysis generates multiple variables such ... compute factors that are not or cannot be ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... physicians supporting Medicaid patients in Central Florida ... telehealth thanks to a new partnership with higi.   ... can routinely track key health measurements, such as blood ... they opt in, share them with IMPOWER clinicians through ... location at no cost. By leveraging this data, IMPOWER ...
(Date:3/31/2016)...  Genomics firm Nabsys has completed a financial  restructuring ... , M.D., who returned to the company in October ... team, including Chief Technology Officer, John Oliver , ... and Vice President of Software and Informatics, Michael ... Dr. Bready served as CEO of Nabsys from 2005-2014 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... - FACIT has announced the creation of a ... Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the Company"), to ... of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the treatment of ... an exciting class of therapies, possessing the potential ... patients. Substantial advances have been achieved with the ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased ... and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were ... Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... STACS DNA Inc., the sample tracking software company, ... Crime Laboratory, has joined STACS DNA as a Field Application Specialist. , “I ... President and COO of STACS DNA. “In further expanding our capacity as a scientific ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... LONDON , June 23, 2016 ... & Hematology Review, 2016;12(1):22-8 ... Review , the peer-reviewed journal from touchONCOLOGY, ... the escalating cost of cancer care is placing ... a result of expensive biologic therapies. With the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: