Most of the tissues in our body consist not only of cells, but also of the extracellular (intercellular) matrix. And the so-called connective tissues are generally more likely to consist mostly of the matrix, although there are cells too.
The extracellular matrix serves as a mechanical support for the cells and provides their nutrition. It can be imagined as a three-dimensional canvas of structural proteins (mainly collagen, elastin, and a number of others) and filled with liquid. Cells (fibroblasts) are inserted into this canvas, which in turn synthesize extracellular matrix components and various biochemically active molecules.
Collagen production decreases with age: each year there is 1% less collagen produced in the skin of a person older than 20, which explains
its thinning. Problems with other components of the matrix also begin to develop.
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are involved in the disassembly of the extracellular matrix. This is a complex process, but in order to understand its importance, imagine the formation of blood vessels: firstly, a tunnel in the three-dimensional structure of the matrix needs to be made. MMPs play the role of workers punching a hole for such a tunnel. There are 29 different types of metalloproteinases, each has its own number, so in the academic literature they are usually found under names like MMP-1, MMP-8, etc
Normally, the degradation and synthesis of the matrix are in balance, and the matrix has the optimal properties for each particular tissue: not too hard, not too loose. With age, the balance is disturbed, which is expressed in various diseases, for example, in fibrosis. The latter is a condition in which connective tissue grows forming scars. It has been shown that MMP-1, MMP-8, and MMP-13 can play an antifibrotic role, since an increase in their level decreases liver fibrosis [3
On the other hand, it has also been shown that excessive production of MMP-1 in smokers causes premature aging of the skin. Therefore, FCX-013 technology, which can be used to regulate the production of metalloproteinases, turn their synthesis on and off, seems to be optimal for combating various fibrosis.
In September 2018, the FDA approved Fast Track status for FCX-013
. This therapy is now going through clinical trials Phase I&II (i.e. Phase I combined with Phase II), and volunteers are being called for