Monday, September 30, 2013

Fruit Flies May Hold Key to Wound Healing

Think twice the next time you reach for a fly swatter. Even though fruit flies can often be a nuisance during a picnic, recent research has revealed that the pesky insects may be quite useful. 

Studies have shown that the cellular makeup of human skin is similar to the exoskeleton in fruit flies, and their outer cells have similar reactions to human wound punctures. According to a presentation at the Genetics Society of America’s 54th Annual Drosophila Research Conference in Washington, D.C., a group of researchers discovered a new way to study wound healing in fruit flies (also known as Drosophila) that suggests new targets for wound-healing drugs for humans. 

Rachel A. Patterson, one of the lead researchers and co-authors from the University of California, San Diego (UCSC) explained that many of the key molecules and proteins involved in wound healing in fruit flies are also involved in wound healing in humans. 

In order to study the biological function of wound healings, researchers punctured the exoskeleton of a fruit fly embryo with a microneedle and then injected the embryo with trypsin. Trypsin activates the genes involved in wound healing and amplifies the response in affected cells. This process allowed researchers to pinpoint the specific genes involved in responding to a wound.

This experiment revealed activities of eight genes that had not previously been suspected to be a part of wound healing. These genes are activated at very low levels or not at all in most cells, but are active when an injury occurs. This discovery will help researchers in the future as they create medicine and treatments to heal wounds.

“I think one amazing application of our studies may be to build a better bandage – containing compounds to promote wound healing,” said co-author Michelle T. Juarez, PhD, an assistant medical professor at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at the City College of New Year. 

Researchers hope that these studies will also lead to broader discoveries regarding human skin diseases and may provide insight about treatment for chronic diseases, such as eczema, psoriasis and severe dry skin. Although scientists are still on their way to discovering the complexities of wound healing, many topical treatments that can help with skin wounds and scarring already available are safe and effective. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call Greenville Dermatology today at (864) 242-5872.

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