Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have discovered a novel molecular mechanism that tightens the bonds between the cells that line blood vessels to form a leak-proof barrier.
The mechanism presents a potential new target to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), an often fatal condition in which fluid leaks out of blood vessels into the lungs. The researchers found they could trigger the cell-tightening mechanism in mice using a small molecule, called FG-4497.
Mice that were exposed to an infectious agent that causes fluid to enter the lungs had higher rates of survival and less fluid accumulation than mice not treated with the compound.
ARDS is fatal in approximately half of all cases. The current standard treatment is supportive care, such as artificial ventilation. Few therapies are able to successfully reverse the fluid leakage.
The researchers hope that this could one day lead to the development of new treatments for lung infections which are fatal in nature.