Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists open doors to diagnosis of emphysema

03.08.2009
EMBL development may provide powerful new test for inflammatory lung diseases

Chronic inflammatory lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema are a major global health problem, and the fourth leading cause of death and disability in developed countries, with smoking accounting for 90% of the risk for developing them.

Work by scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and its Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit (MMPU) with the University of Heidelberg, Germany, has shed new light on the underlying disease process of emphysema using a technique which could in future be adapted for use in diagnosis. The study is published today in Nature Chemical Biology.

The researchers present a new strategy for testing the activity of MMP12, an enzyme known to be involved in the development of emphysema. Emphysema is characterised by the damage and destruction of the alveoli, the tiny air-sacs of the lungs that are crucial for respiration and uptake of oxygen from the air.

Cigarette smoke and other irritants activate immune cells, like macrophages, in the lungs to destroy the foreign material, and chronic exposure causes inflammation. MMP12 is an enzyme secreted by macrophages which usually helps them to break down the extracellular matrix (the complex network of proteins and fibers that surround and support the cells of the body), a process important for normal wound healing. However, over-stimulation of macrophages by irritants leads to build up of excess MMP12, which starts to damage the delicate structure of the small airspaces of the lungs, eventually leading to emphysema.

“We developed a tool which, for the first time, allows us to study MMP12 activity in specific cells, as if we were actually looking inside the lungs,” says Carsten Schultz, whose group carried out the research at EMBL.

The researchers designed a special fluorescent probe that essentially allows MMP12 activity in macrophages to be quantified by the amount of fluorescence they take up. Applying this test to samples of lung cells from a mouse model of acute lung inflammation showed that MMP12 activity in macrophages was indeed increased.

Although the study was performed in mice, the researchers hope that in future it will be possible to adapt the test for use in patients. “It would allow us to use MMP12 as a biomarker to monitor disease evolution and the risk of emphysema formation. It could also serve to examine the response to therapeutic interventions in patients with inflammatory lung diseases,” says Marcus Mall, group leader at the Children's Hospital at the University of Heidelberg.

The EMBL and University researchers hope that the new testing strategy can be extended to other enzymes involved in lung inflammation and that, with a better picture of the processes underlying these diseases, future treatments could be more specific, reducing the side-effects often caused by broad spectrum treatments.

Anna-Lynn Wegener
Press Officer
EMBL
Meyerhofstrasse 1
D-69117 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 6221 387452
Fax: +49 6221 387525
anna.wegener@embl.de

Anna-Lynn Wegener | EMBL
Further information:
http://www.embl.org
http://www.embl.de/aboutus/news/pr_archive/2009/090802_Heidelberg/index.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow
25.07.2017 | Rudolf-Virchow-Zentrum für Experimentelle Biomedizin der Universität Würzburg

nachricht Fungi that evolved to eat wood offer new biomass conversion tool
25.07.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>