Human skin suffers huge damage when exposed to ultraviolet rays. Over the years, this repeated exposure leads to dull and wrinkled skin which is synonymous with skin ageing. According to a recent study published in in the journal Aging Cell, a new drug can actually block the damaging effects of UV rays and may assist in delaying ageing.
Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Providence Health Care in Canada carried out experiments on mice modules. The mice were exposed to repeated wrinkle-inducing ultraviolet (UV) light. It was found that when a certain enzyme called Granzyme B was inhibited, it lead to the prevention of ageing and deterioration of tissues that depend on collagen - not just skin, but blood vessels and lung passages. These findings raise hope for a drug that would block the activity of Granzyme B in certain places.
A company, named viDA Therapeutics, co-founded by David Granville, professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and principal investigator in the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation of UBC and St Paul's Hospital, is currently developing a Granzyme-B inhibitor based on technology licensed from UBC. The company plans to test a topically applied drug on people within two years with discoid lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease worsened by sunlight that can lead to disfiguring facial scarring.
If the drug proves effective in preventing lupus-related skin lesions, there is potential for a cosmetic product that can be created to prevent the normal, gradual ageing of the skin caused mostly by sun exposure.
Granville and his team further investigated the role of Granzyme B in other medical condtions like atherosclerosis and heart attacks. The team analysed if the blood vessels of mice lacking Granzyme B were more resistant to hardening and narrowing, a condition that often causes heart attacks in humans.
In the process, it was discovered that such mice retained youthful-looking skin compared to other mice.
For the experiment, Granville's team constructed a device to simulate sun exposure on mice. Each mouse was put in a carousel that slowly turned under UV lamps, exposing them for three to four
minutes, three times a week. After 20 weeks of repetitive exposure, it was seen that the skin of mice lacking Granzyme B had aged much less with their collagen more intact - compared to the control
Not only this, scientists are also of the opinion that this drug may be used for treating life-threatening conditions, such as aneurysms and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Such diseases are caused by the breakdown of collagen and other proteins that provide structure to blood vessels and lung passages.
Inputs from PTI