Epidermal growth factor

Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is a crucial role player in cell growth, proliferation, and differentiation by binding to its specific receptor, EGFR. EGF is a protein with 53 amino acids and three intramolecular disulfide bonds. So what do these utterly scientific descriptions mean? Basically, EGF is essential for the reproduction and survival of certain human cells.

Activity of Epidermal Growth Factor
When EGF attaches to its receptor, the enzyme tyrosine kinase is activated, triggering the actions of cells to grow and multiply. If the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is abundant on a given cell, it will cause excessive growing and multiplying of cells. This phenomenon leads to abnormally high numbers of cells, and often times cancer. However, cell growth is not always a bad thing. It positively effects growth in many types of cells, including fibroblasts, liver, vascular, thyroid, ovary, pituitary gland, and often times on the skin.

Clinical Uses
In the medical world, there are conditions that can benefit from EGF treatment, and those that are caused by excessive EGF found naturally in the body. Conditions that benefit from EGF treatment include necrotizing enterocolitis, gastrointestinal ulceration, congenital microvillus atrophy, and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Other conventional medical uses include a cream to cure abnormalities, such as wounds, burns or injuries from an accident, on the skin.

The most important clinical indication of EGF is the proliferation of bad cells, leading to cancer. If this protein growth factor gets out of control, more and more damaging cells can be produced and used where other, normal cells should be. On the surface of these cancer cells or tumors, EGFR (the receptor) is found in abnormally high numbers, indicating an excessive division of cancerous cells. This is considered a mutation, and the problem is often treated with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Typically, the drug binds to the receptor, and takes the place of the EGF, inhibiting its attachment, and therefore, stopping cell division. In this case, the division of cancer cells. Examples of this type of chemotherapy drug include Tarceva, Erbitux, Vectibix, and Iressa. Another benefit: the side effects experienced with this type of treatment are often a lot milder than with other, more invasive chemotherapies. The cancers that have been studied (and that have shown increased survival rates) include lung, pancreatic, and colorectal.

EGF in the Skin Care Industry
In cases of burns or wounds on the outer layer of skin, the EGF stimulates new cell growth to make up for the skin cells that were lost with the injury. It provides a much quicker way of healing, which is desirable for any victim of skin loss. Taking it a step further, epidermal growth factor has been studied more recently in the skin industry to regenerate aging skin and make people look younger on the outside. Topical creams of natural and bioengineered EGF have given Botox and other skin treatments a run for their money. Even better, creams can be used at home any time up to two times daily, and a trip doesn’t have to be made to get the Botox injection. Aged skin cells can be transformed into younger looking cells. You may be wondering how this works. The skin is producing new layers of cells every single hour of every single day; these creams are meant to produce vibrant and working skin cells that will make you look younger.

Downside of Using Epidermal Growth Factor

With the overuse of epidermal growth factor, too many skin cells can be produced, which can sometimes be not such a good thing. Always consult with a physician before using EGF products, and again if you start to experience unusual and undesired skin abnormalities.

Last updated on Jan 20th, 2011 and filed under Nutritional Information. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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