Researchers have developed a new drug that results in faster regrowth and healing of damaged tissues. In a study published in the journal Science, they detailed how a new drug repaired damage to the colon, liver and bone marrow in animal models — even going so far as to save the lives of mice who otherwise would have died in a bone marrow transplantation model. “We are very excited,” said Sanford Markowitz, professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.
“We have developed a drug that acts like a vitamin for tissue stem cells, stimulating their ability to repair tissues more quickly.” “The drug heals damage in multiple tissues, which suggests that it may have applications in treating many diseases,” he said. The institutions collaborating on this work next hope to develop the drug — now known as “SW033291” — for use in human patients. The key to the drug’s potential involves a molecule the body produces that is known as prostaglandin E2, or PGE2.
The researchers had earlier demonstrated that a gene product found in all humans, 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (15-PGDH), degrades and reduces the amount of PGE2 in the body which is known to support proliferation of many types of tissue stem cells. So in the new study, the researchers hypothesised that inhibiting 15-PGDH would increase PGE2 in tissues and promote and speed tissue healing. When experiments on mice genetically engineered to lack 15-PGDH proved them correct, the pair began searching for a way to inactivate 15-PGDH on a short-term basis. “The chemical, SW033291, acts in an incredibly potent way,” Markowitz said. “It can inactivate 15-PGDH when added at one part in 10 billion into a reaction mixture, which means it has promise to work as a drug.”