New Discovery Makes Scar Prevention Easier

Soon scars may be a thing of the past.

Scars have been the bane of humans throughout history. Scar tissue can be an embarrassment, disfiguring, even life-threatening.

Now an amazingly simple solution seems to have been discovered. The answer lies with a common sugar molecule. Blocking the molecule may allow cut or burned tissue to heal scar-free.

A team led by Cornelia Tölg and Eva Turley of the London Health Sciences Center in Ontario, Canada believed that high levels of hyaluronan help stop scars for forming. Their reasoning was based on scientific observations that both fetuses and newborn babies have very low incidences of scarring after injury, while those that are older tend to scar more as their age increases.

Sugar molecule not sweet for healing

Once the skin is cut, torn or burned, the healing process begins. Scar tissue often results because small fragments of sugar initiates an instruction to the body that replicates throughout the process. That signal can cause increased inflammation of the surrounding tissue and promote greater scar formation.

The body responds quickly to punctures, cuts, gouges and other wounds before massive infection can set in. Because of the speed of the body’s defense mechanism, excess collagen is rushed to the site of the wound in an effort to reduce inflammation. That collagen—in larger quantities than needed—leads to scar tissue and scarring.

“There is a lot of evolutionary pressure to heal wounds really quickly,” Tölg told Scientific American. “We heal at the expense of tissue architecture.”

Peptide 15-1 to the rescue

Researchers have discovered that by simply introducing peptide 15-1 the healing process will continue with no scar tissue as the excess collagen is reduced. The peptide also helps to speed the healing process, reducing chance of infection and complications.

The new therapy should work both on the skin and on internal organs, muscle tissue, and any other body part that has been cut, torn or burned.

Tölg and Turley’s research was presented in Philadelphia on December 12, 2010 at the American Society for Cell Biology’s 50th annual conference.

The difference in the healing process was the sugar molecule hyaluronan. The substance is very high in the bodies of the very young and tends to drop off with age.
Described as “a long, gooey sugar” by Scientific American, hyaluronan wasn’t known to exist until the 1970s. For decades scientists believed the sugar was just a part of the extracellular glop that surrounds all animal cells.

Recently, however, research has revealed that the sugar plays a significant role in the development of heart tissue and the metasis of tumors.

Significant work

Attendees at the conference were very impressed with the presentation given by the two researchers.

“It’s a very significant work,” Vinata Lokeshwar proclaimed. Lokeshwar is a cellular biologist working at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “If they found a peptide that blocks the [receptor] activity, it has implications beyond inflammation. It could be used for cancer, or even in the cosmetics industry.”

As for the beauty industry, it could be a multibillion dollar bonanza. Just one treatment with peptide 15-1 may eliminate scarring making it a thing of the past, Tölg and Turley claim.