Biotechnology

Researchers identify a protein associated with lethal burns

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Osaka, Japan – Although many people still die from severe burns, the underlying physiology behind burns is not well understood. In an article published in iScienceresearchers from Osaka University identified a key protein associated with death in people with life-threatening burns.

Credit: 2023, Shinya Onishi, The combination of HBA1, TTR, and SERPINF2 in plasma determines the phenotype that correlates with severe burn outcome, iScience

Osaka, Japan – Although many people still die from severe burns, the underlying physiology behind burns is not well understood. In an article published in iScienceresearchers from Osaka University identified a key protein associated with death in people with life-threatening burns.

Proteomics is the large-scale study of the entire protein series of organisms. Recent developments in mass spectrometry—an analytical technique used to identify chemical substances—have increased the feasibility of proteomic analysis, enabling the identification of hundreds to thousands of proteins at a time.

Shinya Onishi, lead author of the study, emphasized that proteomic analysis of burns is still in its infancy. “Burns are known to cause severe dysregulation of the circulatory, immune, metabolic and coagulation systems,” he says. “For example, right after an injury, there is an immediate increase in capillary permeability, which is one of the main factors leading to circulatory failure. However, the details behind many of these mechanisms are still unclear.”

This retrospective observational study included ten healthy volunteers and 83 burn patients, 15 of whom died within 28 days of injury. Proteins in plasma samples were analyzed using mass spectrometry. The authors then performed various statistical analyzes to understand how different protein levels correlated with burn severity.

Jun Oda, a senior author of the study, highlighted two fundamental goals of this study: “The first aim was to identify a previously unidentified protein that may be associated with the pathogenesis of life-threatening burns,” he said. “The second goal is to investigate novel molecular pathways in burn victims that may become drug targets in the future.”

In the end, ten proteins were identified that were strongly associated with death.

In addition, three of these proteins (HBA1, TTR, and SERPINF2) showed the highest association with death and were used by the investigators to classify patients (also known as clinical phenotypes) into three groups according to mortality. The group that had the highest mortality was characterized by higher HBA1 levels and lower TTR and SERPINF2 levels.

One of the proteins, HBA1, is associated with hemoglobin, while the other, TTR, is an indicator of protein breakdown in the body. Finally, a third protein, SERPINF2, is associated with the development and dissolution of blood clots. Onishi emphasizes that “these three proteins may serve as important prognostic biomarkers for burn patients”. Therefore, future research on this protein and its pathways is necessary as it is a promising target for developing new therapeutic strategies and drugs for severe burns.

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The article, “The combination of HBA1, TTR, and SERPINF2 in plasma determines the phenotype that correlates with severe burn outcome” was published in iScience at DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2023.107271

About Osaka University

Osaka University was founded in 1931 as one of Japan’s seven imperial universities and is now one of Japan’s leading comprehensive universities with a broad spectrum of disciplines. This strength is coupled with a singular drive for innovation that extends throughout the scientific process, from fundamental research to the creation of applied technologies with positive economic impact. Its commitment to innovation has been recognized in Japan and around the world, being named the most innovative university in Japan in 2015 (Reuters 2015 Top 100) and one of the most innovative institutions in the world in 2017 (University of Nature Innovative and Innovation Index 2017). Now, Osaka University is leveraging its role as a National Designated University Corporation selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to contribute to innovation for human well-being, sustainable societal development, and social transformation.

Website: https://resou.osaka-u.ac.jp/en


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