According to a recent study led by assistant professor of regenerative medicine and stem cell biology at the University of South Carolina, Joseph T. Rodgers has found a new way to increase our ability to heal ourselves after injury. The study was then published in the Cell reports journal.
The research had been funded by different grants from the national institute of health. The funding was also secured by the Glenn foundation for medical research, The department of veterans affairs and the Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter foundation. It was also co-sponsored by the department of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford university.
In previous research, Rodgers showed that adult stem cells can enter an alert state whenever the body sustains an injury. Alert stem cells have much greater healing capabilities as well as the ability to repair damaged tissues.
Rodgers had theorized that blood from an injured person can produce an alert state in another person’s stem cells. When tested on lab mice, Rodgers and his team injected healthy mice with blood from their injured counterparts. The stem cells of healthy mice were observed to adopt the state of alert.
Their team was later able to expose the chemical mechanism which is used to make cells go into an alert state as enzyme Hepatocyte Growth factor Activator (HGFA). HGFA is an enzyme that is always present in the bloodstream, however, it does not get activated until the body experiences an injury. Once that said injury occurs, the enzyme signals adult stem cells to be in the alert state.
Implications for repair response in the injured body
After the findings were discovered, Joseph and his team decided to see what would happen if an injury were sustained while the adult stem cells were in a state of alert.
After the HGFA was injected into the healthy mice. Several days later, the mice were given muscle or skin injuries. The test subjects were actually observed to regrow missing fur, heal faster and get back to the exercise wheels faster.
The research had supported the idea that the presence of HGFA in the bloodstreams allows the body to respond a lot more quickly and efficiently to injury. The same way vaccines prep the body to fight specific disease, the enzyme gets cells ready to respond to tissue damage.
In the future, people could possibly be able to use HGFA before they engage in activities that could possibly result in injury. Forthcoming studies will explore how HGFA affects declines in the ability to heal and how to use it to restore our normal healing abilities.