Microfibrils: Pint-size players in connective tissue disorders
About one in 5,000 North Americans suffer from Marfan's syndrome-an inherited connective tissue disorder that can lead to blindness, lung collapse, heart failure and death. Canada Research Chair Dieter Reinhardt is committed to ending the suffering of those afflicted with Marfan's, as well as the many other connective tissue disorders that afflict thousands of people across the country.
Reinhardt's research is focused on microfibrils-small, threadlike filaments that make up the intricate lattice that supports our cells and are essential for the manufacture of the elastic fibres that underlie our bodies' flexible structures such as blood vessels, lungs, eyes, and skin. He believes that understanding microfibrils and how they function is the first step towards understanding, diagnosing and treating connective tissue disorders.
Reinhardt is working to identify all the components of the microfibrils and to figure out the different ways they function in various tissues as well as attempting to understand how microfibrils transmit instructive signals to cells, especially during cell development.
More than just understanding the microfibrils role in connective tissue disorders, Reinhardt is also identifying the gene products that create disease-causing pathways to develop in a person's cells. By strengthening our knowledge of Marfan's and other connective tissue disorders, his research is opening up new treatment options for those who suffer from them.