Scientists at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center say that they’re working on a preclinical drug that may prove promising for repairing severe lung damage.
Their work is based on insights into the ways in which a transcription factor called FOXF1 can set off a cascade of biological responses that can counter the damage done by pneumonia, Ebola and other severe infections as well as certain cancer therapies.
"A small molecule compound we developed efficiently stabilizes the FOXF1 protein in cell cultures and mouse lungs, and it shows promise in inhibiting lung inflammation and protecting experimental mice from lung injury,” says Vladimir Kalinichenko, the co-senior author, physician and researcher in the Divisions of Pulmonary Biology and Developmental Biology at Cincinnati Children’s.
The loss of FOXF1 in the endothelial cells found in mouse lungs eliminates a badly needed barrier that protects lungs, the team noted. And now they’ve begun testing a FOXF1-stabilizing small molecule in mouse models for lung damage, though they caution that there’s more work to be done pre clinically before it can be tested on humans.
They are looking at a big potential market, though. The scientists added that acute respiratory distress syndrome kills tens of thousands of people each year in the U.S. and leads to the hospitalization of millions of people.
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