Fruit Fly Embryos Could Help With Scar-Free Wound Repair, Researchers Say

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Deep cuts need stitches and that means they leave scars. But a team of researchers at the University of Toronto could help future scientists and doctors to repair wounds without leaving scars.

The study has been published in Nature Physics on 23 April, and it shows how two proteins can help with repairs of the cells. These proteins occur in fruit fly embryos that can heal themselves without leaving scars.

Cells Behave in Real Time

The supervising researcher behind this study is Rodrigo Fernandez-Gonzalez, associate professor at U of T’s Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME), and the Canada Research Chair in Quantitative Cell Biology & Morphogenesis. He explains his study:

“Fruit flies are more like us, in some ways, than people think. There are many human genes that have a counterpart in these insects that we can study. This is amazing because, in fruit fly embryos, we can observe how cells behave in real time inside a living organism, which is not something we can do – ethically or practically – in humans.”

They have observed how two proteins inside the fruit fly embryos accumulate at the margins of their wounds. The research team used experimental, quantitative microscopy techniques and mathematical modeling to observe and take records of how these two proteins called actin and myosin act in the wound. They distribute in the wound edges and start contracting the wound.

Repairing Wounds In the Heart Without Scarring It

First author of this study, Teresa Zulueta-Coarasa, the Ph.D. student in Fernandez-Gonzalez’s group of researchers stated the following:

“This study has changed our understanding of embryonic wound healing, demonstrating that the actomyosin protein network around the wound is not uniformly distributed but rather a dynamic structure.”

Their work, said Teresa Zulueta-Coarasa, could “shed light into why applying certain patterns of physical forces to wounds facilitates healing.” Their study will help cases of heart failure, where the heart stiffens after naturally healing. Fernandez-Gonzalez said that “understanding of how wounds can repair without scarring in fruit fly embryos could lead to the development of interventions that prevent scarring and subsequent chances of heart failure.”

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere