According to a group of researchers from Xiamen and Peking universities in China, and Harvard Medical School in Boston, "popping a pill to repair an organ may eventually become reality." Their research paper, published this month in Science Translational Medicine, suggests this finding could steer organ repair away from today's scaffolds, materials and cell-based regenerative medicine strategies.
The group identified a small molecule that can target a critical signaling molecule in the Hippo pathway. Specifically, the drug 4-((5,10-dimethyl-6-oxo-6,10-dihydro-5H-pyrimido[5,4-b]thieno[3,2-e][1,4]diazepin-2-yl)amino)benzenesulfonamide (XMU-MP-10) was found to block MST1/2 activity, which promoted liver repair and regeneration in four different mouse models of acute and chronic injuries; one including acetaminophen-induced injury, which is a common cause of liver failure worldwide.
The Hippo pathway is a key regulator of organ size and regeneration that acts by inhibiting cell proliferation and promoting apoptosis. Kinases MST1 and MST2 (MST1/2) are central components of this pathway, and therefore strong target candidates for pharmacologically induced tissue regeneration, as opposed to complex biomaterial and cell therapies.
Although these studies involved mouse models, in addition to liver and intestinal tissues, the authors note that the loss of MST1/2 in other tissues, including the skin, pancreas and heart, also promotes tissue growth. They added it would be of interest to determine the protective effect of XMU-MP-1 on injuries to those tissues.
Specific to personal care, in a related study from a few years ago, researchers explained that epithelial cells usually adhere to one another through cell–cell junctions such as adherens junctions (AJs), desmosomes and tight junctions (TJs). Tight junctions, in particular, have been the target of new actives for several years in the cosmetics industry. Interestingly, many upstream regulators identified for the Hippo pathway are known components of TJs, AJs or apical–basal polarity protein complexes.
While at this point, the cosmetic implications of this research are merely that—implied, the medical field often leads the way for future cosmetic innovations. And with the skin being the body's largest organ, it may only be a matter of time before a prescription-strength, super nutricosmetic arrives on the skin care scene.