Small RNAs promote wound-healing without scarring

RNA research

A class of molecules playing a crucial role in the regulation of gene expression and other cellular processes can restore normal skin structure rather than producing a scar, a University of Manchester-led study suggests.

The new findings show that microRNA-29s, a class of small RNAs, could benefit patients affected by large-area or deep wounds prone to dysfunctional scarring.

The findings offer hope for a solution to the global problem of non-healing wounds, thought to cost between £11.25 billion and £16.5 billion per year.

Dr Svitlana Kurinna, University of Manchester Division of Cell Matrix Biology and Regenerative Medicine and lead investigator of the study, said: “We had data showing microRNAs can regulate skin growth. However, microRNAs do not code for proteins, so it wasn’t clear how such small molecules can make changes to the skin.

“We expected the removal of microRNA-29 would help outer layers of the skin to grow faster. But it was the deep matrix of the wound that actually showed an improvement, and that was tremendously exciting.”

The findings demonstrate the role of microRNA-29 in epidermal repair and suggest the release of microRNA-29 targets, particularly LAMC2, promotes wound healing.

That could mean the inhibition of microRNA-29 and/or overexpression of LAMC2 may be a new and effective strategy for improving wound healing.

Dr Kurinna added: “Our findings are of particular interest because they describe the mechanism which restores normal skin structure, rather than a wound closure by scar tissue. Any improvement of normal skin repair would therefore help many patients affected by large-area or deep wounds prone to dysfunctional scarring.”

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