A potentially important new study, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, identified fibroblast activation protein (FAP) as a crucial factor in collagen fragment clearance in the lungs. Clearing collagen fragments is a key step in reducing tissue scarring and restoring lung function following injury, making FAP an interesting target for new idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) treatments.
The process of lung tissue scarring in IPF is dependent on an array of molecular factors promoting the accumulation of collagen in the tissue. Scientists have previously observed that FAP levels are increased in the lungs of IPF patients, assuming FAP to be part of the process leading to disease. The new study, however, shows that FAP protects the lungs from fibrosis.