HOUSTON (UPI) – Injured adult cells in the body initiate a process present during embryonic cell development to protect themselves, but this effort at self-preservation often damages organs long-term.
Researchers have found a way to reverse the embryonic cellular process called epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, or EMT, which they believe can reverse kidney disease. Fibrosis, a “runaway defense mechanism” of the body, produces scars that clog the kidney and destroy its functional tissue until it stops functioning.
“Our work shows that damaged kidney cells respond by undergoing EMT to protect themselves from further damage but in the process, develop long-term damage due to fibrosis, a form of chronic wound healing,” said Dr. Raghu Kalluri, chair of the cancer biology department at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, in a press release. “Each adult kidney cell behaves like an embryonic cell, losing the ability to perform important tasks that keep the organ functional.”