Sydney: The discovery of a crucial step in the body`s process for healing wounds could open a new way of treating inflammation, which is the immune system`s response to an illness or infection.
An international team led by Monash University`s Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) discovered the mechanism, which shuts down the signal triggering the body`s initial inflammatory response to injury.
When the body suffers a wound or abrasion, white blood cells, or leukocytes, travel to the site of the injury to protect the tissue from infection and start repairing the damage, the journal Current Biology reported.
By observing the tiny, transparent zebra fish under a microscope, researchers were able to observe individual white blood cells and how they are regulated in the inflammatory phase of the healing process.
However, this period of inflammation need only be temporary. If the body allows the inflammatory stage to continue for too long, the next phase of healing is compromised, said a university statement.
Previous research identified the initial signal that calls the leukocytes to the site of the injury, but how this early signal was switched off, letting the leukocytes know that they were no longer urgently needed, was unknown.
The latest findings show that an enzyme called myeloperoxidase is the key to this process, whose deficiency, often hereditary, affects leukocyte function in one in every 2,000 people, said Graham Lieschke, professor at ARMI, who led the study.
Lieschke concluded: "White blood cell activity is important for determining the balance between repair, scarring and healing. Our research has identified a new pathway to target with anti-inflammatory drugs. There is a significant need for new treatment options as current drugs are not effective in all circumstances."