COLUMBUS, Ohio Scientists have determined that chronic wounds might have trouble healing because of the actions of a tiny piece of a molecular structure in cells known as RNA.
The Ohio State University researchers discovered in a new animal study that this RNA segment in wounds with limited blood flow lowers the production of a protein that is needed to encourage skin cells to grow and close over the sore.
In a parallel experiment using human skin cells, the researchers silenced the RNA segment with an experimental drug and saw those protein levels rise. The skin cells multiplied as a result.
The combination of findings suggests that targeting this RNA segment with a drug that could be used topically on skin might offer new strategies for treating chronic wounds, which are sometimes fatal and cost the U.S. health-care system an estimated $25 billion annually.
The research appears this week in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
RNA in cells is responsible for using instructions from DNA to make proteins, but the piece of RNA identified in this study has a completely different role. It is a microRNA, a small segment of RNA that blocks an important protein-building process. The RNA segment in question is known as miR-210.
The research involves wounds that are ischemic, that is, they heal very slowly or are in danger of never healing because they lack blood flow and oxygen at the wound site. These types of wounds affect about 6.5 million patients each year, and are common complications of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and other conditions characterized by poor vascular health.
"When blood supply is inadequate, many things are deficient at the wound site, including oxygen. That leads to a condition called hypoxia," said Chandan Sen, professor and vice chair for research in Ohio State's Department of Surgery and senior author of the study. "W
|Contact: Chandan Sen|
Ohio State University