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UTMB Research Team Uncovers Mechanisms Involved in Healing

Oct 20, 2022, 16:36 PM by UTMB Surgery

Myofibroblast activation (MFA) is a naturally occurring process stimulated in response to an injury or infection. This pro-inflammatory response typically resolves and the tissue returns to its pre-injury state. However, unresolved MFA is an underlying causative factor in many degenerative and fibrosis-associated disease states including chronic wounds, and liver, kidney, pancreas, or heart fibrosis/failure. Members of the UTMB Department of Surgery Transplant Division uncovered a novel and readily available way in which MFA could be regulated, both positively and negatively, by using total or fractionated cell-free amniotic fluid, or amniotic stem cell conditioned media. These findings may translate to new therapies for a broad set of diseases. 

From Dr. Sam Fagg, Assistant Professor in the Departments of Surgery & Biochemistry and Molecular Biology:

“Our findings suggest that we can use these different reagents to either dial up or dial down MFA and the epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Depending on the disease state and its stage, a clinician might want to stimulate MFA and the early pro-inflammatory stages of healing, or perhaps just promote the late stages of healing and a return to epithelial cell homeostasis and stongly reduce inflammatory signaling. Basically, just activate or shutdown the different phases of healing as you want, with the different solutions we discovered/tested. We think these may open the door to new approaches in precision medicine for wound healing and other degenerative conditions.” 

Current clinical investigations are underway with our industry partner Merakris Therapeutics testing cell-free amniotic fluid in patients suffering from chronic venous stasis ulcers. The research described here might be able to benefit this and other patient groups in the near future. However, further research is needed to fully elucidate the fundamental ways these reagents promote healing, in hopes of unlocking their full potential for patient care.