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Blocking lung disease

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2012 - Autumn

Contents

A Yale-led team of scientists has uncovered a signaling pathway that promotes cell migration in certain forms of pulmonary fibrosis, a deadly lung disease, and may also be used by cancer cells in metastasis. The findings appeared in May’s advance online publication of Nature Cell Biology.

There are no known cures or treatments for pulmonary fibrosis—the development of excessive fibrous connective tissue in the lungs. The members of the Yale team found that by inhibiting certain proteins they could block signaling pathways that cancer cells and connective tissue cells need for migration.

“Our ability to block the pathway provides a potential therapeutic target for treating pulmonary fibrosis and other types of fibrosis,” said senior author Dianqing (Dan) Wu, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology. “Because cancer cells, particularly melanoma and lung cancer cells containing activated BRAF genetic mutations, can use this signaling pathway to migrate, blocking this pathway could also prevent metastasis of these cancers.”