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:12/1/2015)... JOSE, Calif. , Dec. 1, 2015 ... of human interface solutions, today announced a new agreement ... enable OEMs with real-world test and development environments that ... Labs solutions. The partnership reduces the complexity of FIDO ... and software permits Synaptics and OEMs to verify FIDO ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... 30, 2015  BIOCLAIM announced today that is ... Fierce Innovation Awards:  Healthcare Edition, an awards program ... FierceHealthcare , and ... in the category of "Privacy and Cybersecurity." ... --> Photo - ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... , Nov. 26, 2015 Research and ... the "Capacitive Fingerprint Sensors - Technology and Patent ... --> --> Fingerprint ... especially in smartphones. The fingerprint sensor vendor Idex forecasts ... sensor units in mobile devices and of the fingerprint ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... , December 1, 2015 ... touch activated lancet that features Owen Mumford,s unique Comfort ... booth 1403, Unistik® Touch is a touch activated lancet ... --> Owen Mumford, a leading medical device manufacturer, ... medical devices, available initially in the US before expanding ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... 2015 Today the Allen Institute announced the ... South Lake Union neighborhood, the city,s biotechnology ... and Westlake Avenue North, the 270,000 square foot life ... Brain Science and the Allen Institute for Cell Science. ... of the Allen Institute. "We started by building a ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Mass. , Dec. 1, 2015 Researchers ... the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT have ... that significantly cut down on "off-target" editing errors. The ... in the use of genome editing. Science ... that changing three of the approximately 1,400 amino acids ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... SAN FRANCISCO , Dec. 1, 2015  Twist Bioscience, ... CEO, Emily Leproust , Ph.D., has been selected as ... of 2015 for fast-tracking the building blocks of life ... Global Thinkers whose contributions and work have changed ... --> "It is an honor to be ...
Breaking Biology Technology: