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Desmosomes: Adhesion Answers to Skin
By: Katie Schaefer, Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine
Posted: March 2, 2011, from the March 2011 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
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Although the team is interested in treating skin and heart diseases, its primary focus is on wound healing. “We are looking at ways to modify the adhesiveness of desmosomes ... to change the strength at which they bind together in order to promote wound healing,” he said, noting its potential to treat non-healing wounds in diabetics or elderly individuals. Garrod has evidence that these wounds may not heal due to desmosomes being locked in a tightly adhesive manner. He explained, “The epidermis is a thin layer but is tough because desmosomes lock the cells together. When the epidermis is wounded, the cells have to free up to migrate and close the wound, then lock themselves up again to cover the wound.” Current studies in wound healing are under way and new findings are expected this spring.
In principle, Garrod believes he can modify desmosomal adhesion by activating the enzyme protein kinase C. He noted that while there are compounds that activate the enzyme, they are unrefined and have side effects. “If we can understand how these molecules are bound together, it may be possible to modulate them from the outside [rather than reacting with the signaling mechanism inside].” Garrod further hypothesizes that the mechanism behind desmosome binding operates in any disease-causing lesions in the skin and pending funding, he plans to study psoriasis and P. vulgaris in an attempt to benefit these skin diseases.
1. CJ Skerrow and AG Matoltsy, Isolation of epidermal desmosomes, J Cell Biol Nov 1, 63 (2) 515–523 (1974)