Blocking fibrosis and scar tissue formation using protein-based peptide therapy
With $1.04 million in CIHR funding over five years, USask College of Dentistry Professor Andrew Leask (Ph.D.) is studying ways to reduce the incidence of fibrotic disease, which currently accounts for nearly 45% health care costs in developed countries.
Fibrotic diseases such as diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis, and cancers are characterized by the excessive accumulation of collagen-rich scar tissue, which leads to the loss of tissue function.
For people with scleroderma – an autoimmune fibrotic disease in which dense scar tissue can build up in the skin, lungs, kidneys and esophagus – the disease can lead to loss of mobility, pain, disfigurement and death.
Leask is investigating the mechanisms of a potential protein therapy that could be widely used to treat fibrotic diseases, which currently have extremely limited treatment options.
“This CIHR grant will allow us to begin testing whether BLR-200, a peptide molecule, can block or reverse the fibrosis seen in scleroderma,” Leask said. “Our studies of this peptide, combined with our ongoing work in this critical area of research, should allow us to identify the fundamental mechanisms underlying fibrotic conditions, in general.”
Following the funded investigation, the Leask research team and Dr. Bruce Riser (PhD), CEO of biotechnology company BLR Bio, plan to design and begin clinical trials using BLR-200 to treat scleroderma and then moving on to other diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis, solid tumor cancers, melanoma, long COVID and fatty liver disease.
See highlights of other funded projects here.