Researchers in the US have identified a gene that seems to control the repair of adult lungs if they are damaged.
The study, published in the journal, Nature, pinpoints the role of the so-called sonic hedgehog gene in the regeneration process. The sonic hedgehog gene is best known for its role in the development of embryos.
Unlike skin and blood cells, lung tissue does not constantly regenerate. However, if the lung is injured, the tissue can repair itself. The researchers were keen to find out more about what ‘switches on’ this process.
After discovering that signals from the sonic hedgehog gene seemed to be involved in starting the regeneration of the tissue, the scientists performed this with a number of tests at the cellular level to learn more about its role.
The researchers believe that problems relating to the sonic hedgehog gene could be a major contributor to the damage–repair cycle of lung tissue that takes place in a number of different lung conditions.
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