Our bodies are remarkably good at healing themselves. Wounds begin to heal almost from the instant we get them. But just how does out body know how to heal itself?
Researchers at the University of Arizona have made a major breakthrough. An article in Science Daily states:
“A multidisciplinary research team has discovered how cells know to rush to a wound and heal it -- opening the door to new treatments for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The findings shed light on the mechanisms of cell migration, particularly in the wound-healing process. The results represent a major advancement for regenerative medicine, in which biomedical engineers and other researchers manipulate cells' form and function to create new tissues, and even organs, to repair, restore or replace those damaged by injury or disease.”
Our cells seem to know exactly what to do:
“The UA researchers discovered that when mechanical force disappears -- for example at a wound site where cells have been destroyed, leaving empty, cell-free space -- a protein molecule, known as DII4, coordinates nearby cells to migrate to a wound site and collectively cover it with new tissue. What's more, they found, this process causes identical cells to specialize into leader and follower cells. Researchers had previously assumed leader cells formed randomly.”
The report gives more details of the research conducted by Pak Kin Wong, Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Arizona, and colleagues:
“Wong's team observed that when cells collectively migrate toward a wound, leader cells expressing a form of messenger RNA, or mRNA, genetic code specific to the DII4 protein emerge at the front of the pack, or migrating tip. The leader cells, in turn, send signals to follower cells, which do not express the genetic messenger. This elaborate autoregulatory system remains activated until new tissue has covered a wound.”