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Image from Mohan Lab

Injury to the cornea can elicit a pathological process known as fibrosis that leads to irreversible blindness due to scarring. The Mohan lab has discovered that the natural product withaferin A that targets vimentin does not interfere with vimentin's function in normal tissue repair but blocks fibrotic functions of myofibroblasts. This mechanism is illustrated in a cell culture model showing the repair fibroblast treated with withaferin A retains its ability to establish focal adhesions (red-stained vimentin makes contacts with green-stained paxillin, left panel), whereas the myofibroblast cell treated with the drug reveals a phenotype showing arrested cell spreading due to strong interference of focal adhesions (highly restricted red-stained vimentin resulting in poorly formed green-stained paxillin). (Image courtesy Royce Mohan)