De-activating TGF-beta (fibrosi)
Fortunately, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have been working hard to develop ways to control fibrosis. The Pittsburgh scientists realised that fibrosis is stimulated by the overproduction of a chemical called transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta). TGF-beta is produced by tissues in response to injury and disease and is the major cause of fibrosis in humans and other animals.
The Pittsburgh researchers also knew that decorin - a proteoglycan (a protein with sugar attached) naturally found in the human body - has the ability to de-activate TGF-beta. Decorin has been shown to inhibit fibrosis in the kidney, liver, and lung, so why - the Pennsylvania scientists reasoned - would it not also stop fibres from taking over muscle tissue?
In recent research, the Pittsburgh medical team has in fact been able to show that decorin is a powerful anti-fibrotic agent in muscle tissue - and thus that decorin administration has the potential to be an outstandingly effective treatment for muscle injury (Kazumasa, F. et al., 'The Use of An Antifibrosis Agent to Improve Muscle Recovery after Laceration,' The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 29 (4), pp. 394-402, 2001).