William Stetler-Stevenson William Stetler-Stevenson
Find a way to control cell movement, and you've got an excellent weapon in the fights against tumorigenesis and inflammation, an excellent clue as to how organisms develop, and an excellent tool in developing tissue-growth and wound-repair therapies.

One particular family of enzymes, called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), may hold much of the key to such a weapon. When first studied in the 1940s, matrix degradation was actually more important to the leather industry than it was to the biomedical industry. Because proteases seemed to affect the integrity of leather, they were studied at several leather institutes around the world. Only with the explanation of this useful quality in the early 1960s did what came to be called MMPs get introduced to developmental and molecular biology. Amphibian experiments showed that MMPs digest collagens, a major component of skin (leather is essentially tanned skin).

In fact, MMPs actually degrade several...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?