One of the many possible approaches to tinkering with cell behavior is to produce non-functional but otherwise safe copies of a particular protein and introduce them into the patient. The non-functional proteins compete with the natural functional proteins, and thus interfere in whatever it is that the functional proteins are trying to achieve. This is an alternative to approaches that involve directly reducing levels of the functional protein in some way.
Here researchers employ this approach to provide initial evidence that suppressing the activity of the protein N-WASP can reduce stiffness in blood vessels. This protein is a link between signal molecules received at the cell surface and consequent changes in the behavior of the cytoskeleton of the cell, so interference here desensitizes the cell to received signals that may be instructing it to act in ways that stiffen the tissue.
This is a form of compensatory interference that is a long way removed from the varied origins of the problem of stiffening of blood vessels with age. It won’t do much for fraction of stiffness that results from origins exterior to cells, such as cross-linking or loss of elastin in the extracellular matrix. It is nonetheless quite interesting
Article originally posted at