UC Riverside scientists discover wound-healing substance

Many people suffer from the inability to heal properly and open wounds are subject to systemic infections which may lead to death. Now, new research with chickens at the University of California, Riverside has identified a protein pivotal in healing the animals' injuries, findings that have important implications for human healing.

Reporting in the January 2002 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology, Manuela Martins-Green, associate professor of biology, and three of her students note that the chicken chemokine "cCAF" is critical to healing chicken wounds, and appears similar in function to human chemokine interleuken-8 or IL-8.

The discovery may help researchers understand how wound-healing can be accelerated in humans.

Focusing the experimentation on chickens because chickens heal much the way humans do, Martins-Green's laboratory has shown that cCAF can by itself orchestrate much of the wound-healing process, including causing blood vessels to grow toward the wound to replace the blood system damaged by wounding and thereby provide nutrients for the recovering tissue.

Chemokines - small proteins that play important roles in wound healing and in response to cancerous tumors - first became known for their property of attracting white blood cells to sites of inflammation. (Inflammation is an important process in guarding against infection during wound healing and in fighting tumors.) "Our more recent work, still in progress, has shown that interleukin-8 and cCAF can behave in a similar way," Martins-Green says.

In December, 2001, Martins-Green and her students reported at the meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in Washington, D.C. that IL-8 is also able to stimulate contraction and closure of wounds in chickens. "Both the human and chicken chemokines stimulate a common cell type -- fibroblasts -- to become a slightly different type of cell that has the ability to contract, much like a small muscle," Martins-Gr

Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
University of California - Riverside

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