Gene treatment could reduce scarring, help veterans

RXi Pharmaceuticals is the latest to test a gene-silencing technique.

A clinical trial of a gene-silencing treatment to reduce excessive scarring is now underway, bringing to 20 the number of active clinical trials for an experimental process to interfere with how proteins are made in the body, Technology Review reports.

Massachusetts-based RXi Pharmaceuticals has begun trials for a technique to interfere with how RNA -- or ribonucleic acid -- molecules cause scars to form. RXi injects its scar therapy compound directly under the outermost layers of the skin, reducing the risk of side effects to other parts of the body.

The chemical was designed to reduce the expression of a protein called connective tissue growth factor, which regulates biological pathways involved in scar formation, the article said.

There are no proven drugs to prevent scar formation, and while people who develop excessive scarring can have the scars surgically removed, they risk another perhaps larger scar forming in its place, notes the Review. But gene silencing therapy – if it can be successfully developed -- could offer hope to combat veterans battling their own scars.