Scientists have coined a way to manipulate the human body’s immune response to speed up tissue repair. The findings, revealed in Current Biology, reveal a new network of protecting components to defend cells against harm. This discovery, made by the University of Bristol researchers, may significantly benefit sufferers undergoing surgery by speeding recovery times and decreasing the chance of complication.
When tissue is broken, the body rapidly recruits immune cells to the damage site where they fight infection by covering and killing invading pathogens, through the discharge of toxic elements (such as unstable molecules containing oxygen called “reactive oxygen species,” e.g., peroxides). Nevertheless, these bactericidal products are extremely toxic to the host tissue and can obstruct the repair process. To prevent these harmful effects, the fixing tissue activates powerful protecting machinery to “shield” itself from the damage.
Now, researchers from Bristol’s School of Biochemistry studying tissue repair, have mapped the exact identities of those protective pathways and recognized easy methods to stimulate this process in naïve tissues.
Dr. Helen Weavers from Bristol’s Faculty of Life Sciences and the research’s lead writer explains: “In healthy people, injured tissues usually quickly repair themselves following injury. Within a healing skin wound, a stress-response is activated that recruits inflammatory cells, which in turn launch a multitude of bacteriocidal elements, along with reactive oxygen species (ROS), to remove attacking pathogens.
The findings have clear clinical relevance to sufferers because the therapeutic activation of these cytoprotective pathways in the clinic may further offer a thrilling approach to ‘precondition’ patient tissues prior to elective surgery.