Researchers Identify Protein Sensor that Plays a Role in Lung Fibrosis

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine have discovered a protein that plays a critical role in clearing collagen from tissue and may be a therapeutic target to help prevent fibrosis, scar tissue that interferes with organ function. The paper, published on Feb. 20 in Nature Communications, provides clues that could lead to drug development for diseases like lung fibrosis which have no drug options currently.

Corresponding author, Dr. Michael J. Podolsky, Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, has led a team that searched the human genome for genes involved in the process that triggers specialized cells to engulf and digest excess collagen from tissue. Cells called fibroblasts and macrophages pick up collagen fragments for degradation in lysosomes, the trash compactors of cells.

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