Scientists have uncovered a new way cells respond to injury.

Based out of Maine, the MDI Biological Laboratory is a non-profit research organization dedicated to exploring new ideas that will further wound care and regenerative medicine. In a press release for a new project, MDI President Kevin Strange explained that one tenet the lab holds true is that the best medicine doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach.

Instead, the researcher focus on the various mechanisms that relate to diseases and wounds in general. And a new project, headed up by Dr. Vicki Losick and Dr. Albert S. Jun from the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Medical School, truly exemplifies this mentality. Their findings could become hugely important for developing more effective therapeutic technologies.

A new way of cell growth

As detailed in a recent edition of PLOS ONE, Losick and Sun have discovered a brand new wound healing mechanism. Wound-induced polyploidy is a novel technique utilized by humans and other higher-form organisms. According to the National Institutes of Health, the body typically responds to cell death – whether by disease or aging – by simply growing more cells.

However, the average cell can only divide so many times, and that’s where the WIP ability comes in handy. This process causes existing cells to grow and expand, and these enlarged cells can then continue to assist with tasks like tissue regrowth and removing debris, among others.

To study these cells, the scientists used fruit flies, as three-fourths of all human diseases can also be found in this species. Of course, it’s worth noting that cell growth, referred to as hypertrophy, has been widely known for some time.

Losick and Sun, however, are the first researchers to demonstrate that this process can be the result of injury or other trauma. Scientists also didn’t know how the cells grew in size. This occurs through polyploidization, in which the cells gain more DNA and expand to have three sets of chromosomes.

“Our findings suggest that the cellular damage caused by cell loss or wounding leads to different mechanisms of tissue repair – cell proliferation or cell growth — depending on context,” Losick said in the press release. “Now that we have discovered that WIP is a widely used part of the body’s healing arsenal, we can look for genes or drugs that promote healing by boosting the body’s ability to generate these extra-large cells.”


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