Autophagy plays a role in recycling toxic elements from cells and promotes cell survival during periods of cell stress such as starvation. The term autophagy is derived from an ancient Greek phrase meaning “to eat oneself”. In autophagy, a membrane forms around material in the cell targeted for breakdown, and the newly enclosed molecules are delivered to organelles called lysosomes, the waste disposal system of the cell which digest unwanted materials. Excitingly, research has shown that autophagy can also engulf and digest cholesterol accumulated in the artery wall.
Atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque inside arteries) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality for Canadians. It can either be very stable (and never cause problems) or unstable and eventually rupture, causing a stroke or heart attack. Predicting which plaques, and therefore which patients, are at risk for rupture remains a major challenge.
Every year in the United States alone, over 30 million surgical incisions are performed, and another 7 million wounds are causes by trauma. Most of those wounds will heal on their own, but nonetheless always lead to scarring no matter what kind of material is used to close the wound. There are a range of materials and techniques used to close wounds. All agree, however, that an ideal approach to wound closure should be easy to use, fast and painless, cost-effective and not create permanent scarring. Many advancements have significantly improved wound healing.
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