Deciphering the mechanisms of fibrotic scarring to promote regeneration
Funded in: 2020, 2021, 2022
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Problem: Damaged tissue is not repaired but replaced by permanent scar tissue
Target: Pericyte-derived fibrotic scarring as a novel therapeutic target
Goal: Identify drug targets that would allow to reduce fibrotic scarring
Regeneration after spinal cord injury is very limited. Damaged tissue is not repaired but replaced by permanent scar tissue, hindering nerve fibre regeneration and functional recovery. A large part of the scar is made of fibrotic tissue.
The research group has identified a specific subset of pericytes, cells that are normally associated with blood vessels, as a source of fibrotic scar tissue after spinal cord injury. The group also showed that substantial amounts of fibrotic scar tissue are formed after different spinal cord injuries in humans.
Experimental reduction of fibrotic scarring by pericytes showed improvement of nerve fibre regeneration and functional recovery in mice. These findings identify pericyte-derived fibrotic scarring as a novel therapeutic target.
In their current project the group investigates which molecules and immune cells are important for the recruitment of fibrotic cells from the vasculature. By identifying the key molecules in this process, the group aims to identify drug targets that would allow to reduce fibrotic scarring and improve nerve fibre regeneration and functional recovery after spinal cord injury.