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Scientists Discover New Protein that Leads Path to Wound Healing

Scientists Discover New Protein that Leads Path to Wound Healing

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new protein promotes cell migration

Researchers have located a protein that appears to direct the movement of cells in the wound healing process.

Cellular migration is essential to wound healing, as cells crawl across the site in order to close the wound. It’s a complex and intriguing process that researchers have been trying to discover more about for years, and now they have come across a new discovery: According to a study published in the journal Nature Cell Biology, a protein known as Merlin may be responsible for directing the migration of epithelial cells.

Named after the legendary wizard from Medieval England, the protein has revealed itself to be an important leader in the movement of cells in the body, particularly in terms of wound healing. The study was conducted by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart, Germany.

They found that Merlin tells the cell it resides in if a neighboring cell is moving and in what direction it is going, prompting its host cell to move along in the same direction. By directing cells to all move in the same direction, the Merlin cells stimulate faster, more efficient healing. That’s because wounds close more quickly when the cells migrate as one, cohesive group.

The Stuttgart-based scientists believe this study will have positive implications for wound care, as further studies into the movement of cells led by Merlin could provide pertinent information about how to spur recovery in non-healing wounds.

In addition to discovering the leadership qualities of the Merlin protein, the researchers found that this protein inhibits the spread of cancerous cells. Future research may also lead to new discoveries for halting the progression of certain cancers.

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