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New research on the RHAMM protein shows how blocking its expression is a potential treatment for long-lasting wrinkle reduction and skin rejuvenation, creating a possible new avenue of treatment options.
Research at Berkeley Lab suggests that a protein linked to the spread of several major human cancers may also hold great potential for the elimination of wrinkles and the rejuvenation of the skin. If this promise bears fruit, controlling concentrations of the RHAMM protein could one day replace surgical procedures or injections with neurotoxins that carry such unpleasant side-effects as muscle paralysis and loss of facial expressions.
RHAMM stands for Receptor for Hyaluronan Mediated Motility. Mina Bissell, a cell biologist with Berkeley Lab’s Life Sciences Division and a leading authority on breast cancer, was collaborating with Eva Turley, an oncology professor at the University of Western Ontario and leading authority on tissue polysaccharides, on a study of the role that RHAMM plays in regulating the signaling of adipocytes (fat cells) during the repairing of tissue wounds from injuries such as skin cuts, heart attacks and stroke. Earlier research by Turley, who discovered RHAMM, had shown that over-expression of this protein points to a poor patient outcome for such human cancers as breast, colon, rectal and stomach.
In the course of their collaborative study, Bissell and Turley, working with mice, discovered that blocking the expression of the RHAMM protein, either by deleting its gene or through the introduction of a blocking reagent, can be used to selectively induce the generation of fat cells to replace those lost in the aging process. At the same time blocking RHAMM expression also reduces deposits of unhealthy visceral fat.
“This technique could be developed as a means of providing a nonsurgical approach for normalizing skin appearance after reconstructive surgery, for wrinkle reduction, and for face lifts and figure enhancement,” said Bissell.