A sugar molecule which is responsible for reducing the inflammatory response and progress of emphysema has been identified. Emphysema is part of the compounds causing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and the sugar molecule could help in the development of treatments for the pulmonary disease.
COPD is currently the fourth leading cause of death around the globe, and such a treatment could be highly beneficial for all patients worldwide.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Possible New Treatment
The research was conducted by scientists from the RIKEN-Max Planck Joint Research Center for Systems Chemical Biology, and the team used mice in analyzing their hypotheses.
The researchers administered a compound using keratan sulfate, named L4, to two types of mice in order to see the impact on COPD.
While conducting the research, the team observed that keratan sulfate, which can be found in the lung airway, dropped among mice that were exposed to cigarette smoke. Further, the researchers tested to see whether the keratan sulfate drop was also associated with the harm smoking produces in the lungs.
"We plan now to try to determine exactly how L4 blocks neutrophil migration," noted Naoyuki Taniguchi, lead author of the research.
One of the animals had emphysema caused by the enzyme elastase, and the other one had a higher level of smoking-induced emphysema caused by a toxin called LPS.
With the first model, the researchers observed that treatment with L4 maintained the integrity of the alveoli, which otherwise would have been destroyed. As a result of protecting the alveoli, the treatment caused a drop in the infiltration of neutrophils, the white blood cells which are a symptom of inflammatory response.
However, because the researchers could not link the action of L4 to cytokines or reactive oxygen species, they came to the conclusion that the impact of the keratan sulfate formula was indirect.
In the second mouse model, the scientists observed that the administration of L4 had caused a lack in the influx of neutrophils, which makes the formula efficient in reducing the infiltration.
COPD, A Dangerous Illness
Further research will investigate whether this sugar molecule could be employed in treating patients who suffer from COPD.
Research on how to treat COPD is conducted within the scientific community in the attempt to treat the disease. Another recent research found that a specific behavior of the white blood cells could indicate the risks in patients who suffer from this disease.
Among the signs suggesting the presence of COPD, the chronic cough is the first general indicator that the disease is installing into the body. When this happens, the alveoli, which are the air sacs in the lungs, suffer irreversible damage and cannot be fixed by the body alone.