|Dr Jimmy Ham|
The discovery was made by former PhD student Dr Seungmin (Jimmy) Ham, who recently completed his degree under the supervision of Associate Professor Peter Temple-Smith and Dr Graeme Southwick at Monash University.
Dr Ham’s work examined the pathophysiology of keloids, a skin disorder caused by abnormal wound healing which leads to scarring and often requires surgical removal.
“We found that keloid skin was thicker than normal skin due to higher deposition of collagen,” Dr Ham said.
“Using cells from keloid skin, we also identified that the increased collagen production was caused by abnormal accumulation of a protein known as activin, which results in keloid scarring.”
Dr Ham’s research has also revealed that a naturally occurring protein, follistatin, blocks the accumulation of activin and is able to prevent keloid fibrosis.
Associate Professor Peter Temple-Smith said Dr Hams’s discovery has changed our understanding of the cause of keloid disease and provides a new direction in treatment—not just of keloids but other fibrotic diseases.
Dr Ham is now working on developing follistatin as a novel therapeutic for keloids and other fibrotic diseases that may spare patients from going under the surgeon’s knife.