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National Jewish Health scientists identify signaling pathway for ALI

November 21, 2015

In a series of experiments in cell culture and animal models they connected interleukin-1?? to HER2, which triggers a cascade of signals within epithelial cells. Those signals cause blood vessel walls to become permeable and allow the flood of fluid into the lung airspaces. When researchers blocked production of NRG-1, one of the molecules in the signaling pathway, they reduced flow of molecules through a cellular barrier by 52 percent.

The researches then examined lung fluid from ALI patients, and found heightened levels of NRG-1, adding clinical evidence to their data supporting an important role for this pathway. They published their findings January 19 in the online version of the Journal of Biological Chemistry

Two existing medications, herceptin and tykerb, already target a malfunctioning HER2 in some cases of breast-cancer. Several medications targeting ADAM17 are also in development.

"Our work suggests several very promising avenues of research that may finally bring help to ALI patients," said senior author Jeffrey Kern, MD, Professor of Medicine at National Jewish Health.

Source: National Jewish Health