Cx43 as a target for improved wound healing
SummaryWorldwide, 95 million people suffer from wounds that result in tissue loss. Wound healing problems extend hospital stays, especially in the elderly, resulting in an additional $1.5 billion in healthcare costs in the US alone. LeadDiscovery’s current target of the month focuses on connexin43, blocking of which produces a dramatic improvement in wound healing. In this feature we also describe how antisense technology has been applied to develop a licensing opportunity in this area
A team from UCL in collaboration with Auckland University in New Zealand, have developed a revolutionary, new material which accelerates the rate of wound closure and reduces inflammation and scarring. The product, which employs an antisense technology to inhibit the production of the gap junction channel protein Cx43, is topically applied in a gel to wounds. Initial studies have focused on therapeutic treatments for skin lesions, the cornea after laser eye surgery and the spinal cord after crush injury. In each model, the results have been very promising, particularly so in the skin, where proof of principle studies in rodent and porcine models are complete. Cx43 is found ubiquitously in the dermis, and in the epidermis where its expression is reduced in the first few hours following wounding. In their recent Current Biology paper Qiu et al report that enhancing this knock-down process through the use of antisense oligodeoxynucleotides against Cx43, greatly speeds wound closure following incisional and excisional wounding. Not only is healing more rapid but scarring is considerably less evident. Qiu et al suggest that the efficacy of this treatment relates to a reduction in the infiltration of neutrophils into areas surrounding an injury site, reducing cytotoxic damage and increasing the rate of re-epithelialization. These results suggest that this novel treatment will offer an effective alternative to existing wound care products.
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