A key protein may allow for a new way to use the immune system to speed healing and counter inflammatory, infectious and autoimmune diseases, according to a new study led by an Indian-origin scientist.
Researchers led by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai focused on proteinases, enzymes that break down proteins as part of cellular life.
Matrix metalloproteinases or MMPs specifically target the extracellular matrix, the non-cell, structural framework within tissues.
Beyond that role, the new study found that one member of this family, MMP-2, has another signalling role related to the human immune system.
It may shift a set of cells to become part of immune response that accelerates healing in some cases, but may worsen inflammatory disease in others.
Scientists may be able to leverage the newfound MM-2 mechanisms to prevent the contribution of inflammatory signals to tumour growth and autoimmune diseases, or to promote wound healing, researchers said.
“Our results show that MMP-2 uses a multitude of mechanisms to modulate the immune system,” said the study’s lead investigator Nina Bhardwaj, Director of Immunotherapy, Tisch Cancer Center at Mount Sinai, Professor of Medicine, Hematology and Oncology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“These data provides context to how this mechanism happens and could lead to novel treatments,” Bhardwaj said.
The study was published in the journal Cell Reports.