Elastases of white blood cells are involved in tissue destruction and can thus cause various diseases. Scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München have discovered a new isoform which could be involved both in the pathogenesis of diseases such as pulmonary emphysema as well as in the failure of some therapy approaches.

A delicate balance of elastases and elastase inhibitors provides for regular tissue formation and destruction in the body. A perturbation of this balance can lead to excess elastase activity – and as a consequence, increased tissue damage. This is also the case in pulmonary emphysema: Here elastases are no longer sufficiently inactivated, and the lung tissue is destroyed.