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Lung cilia

Results of Brice Marcet (CNRS [National Center for scientific research], Sophia-Antipolis, France) concerning the identification of molecules that promote cilial growth of epithelial cells are good news but I imagine that we should be cautious before being too exited.
However, could you tell me what will be the positive consequences if that’s indeed possible to make lung cilia grow again?
Thanks for your answer

The results of this team are indeed original and lead to the possible development of new therapies in cystic fibrosis (CF). To better understand these results, I’ve contacted Dr Pascal Barbry, the head of the team, with whom we’ve written the answer below.

These results refer to a fundamental research, far before practical applications. It’s recognised in CF particularly (but also in other respiratory diseases) that the respiratory epithelium is altered by several stress factors like chronic inflammation and repeated infections.

The initial aim of this study was to understand how a respiratory epithelium altered by these aggressions could “rebuild” and recover its initial properties. By identifying molecules that allow this “rebuilding”, we could next consider reinforcing the regeneration capacities of patients’ epithelium. Thus, this team has shown that molecules that are called “micro-RNA 449” play a major role in the ciliogenesis of the upper respiratory tract. These “micro-RNA 449” are part of the molecule family called “micro-RNAs”. There are many micro-RNAs in the body that have important regulatory properties in many pathways such as in the inflammatory response, the healing, the differentiation, the proliferation process….

In other pathologies, clinical trials are already under development with micro-RNAs as therapies (different micro-RNAs depending on the disease). Following this team studies, we could consider developing a therapy with the micro-RNA 449, or other micro-RNAs also modulated during a normal differentiation process. It could then be possible to restore the function of the cilia and, then, improve respiratory symptoms in CF.

Micro-RNA therapeutical possibilities should be better exploited in the future, when the specific role of each micro-RNA will be better known. Recently, the American team of Paul McCray has indeed made a great discovery in the CF field. They have shown that another micro-RNA, micro-RNA 138, could enhance the synthesis of CFTR-deltaf508 protein, enhancing the amount of protein in the cell membrane.

These encouraging research studies could therefore lead to new therapeutic developments. We hope to have answered to your question. Do not hesitate to re-contact us if you have new questions.

Pascal Barbry & Harriet Corvol