The skin forms an essential barrier to the environment and protects the body from water loss, and from the invasion of allergens, irritants and pathogens. Therefore, any dysfunction of the skin, or injury that is not appropriately repaired, can cause severe medical problems. Chronic wounds, inflammatory skin diseases and skin cancer represent major health problems. These diseases are difficult to treat and affect a large percentage of the population worldwide. The resulting morbidity is significant, and some of them, such as advanced melanoma and severe cutaneous adverse drug reactions, have high mortality rates.
SKINTEGRITY.CH brings together major experts in basic and clinical research, (bio)engineering and bioinformatics, who use a highly interdisciplinary approach to better understand, diagnose and treat these important disorders. The work involves research on skin injury and repair, inflammatory skin disease and skin cancer and involves state-of-the art “omics” approaches as well as high-throughput screening, bioinformatics, material sciences, high-end imaging, biophysical experimental techniques, animal experimentation, work with human samples and ultimately clinical studies. The interdisciplinary approach of SKINTEGRITY.CH paves the way for industrial collaborations, translational initiatives, associated patents, and start-up companies, thus strengthening the biomedical hub in Switzerland. Finally, SKINTEGRITY.CH plays a major role in training the next generation of scientists, engineers and clinicians, who perform pioneering work at the interface of disciplines, address major scientific questions, and solve important problems of our society.
The research within the consortium as a whole aims to follow a circular format: patients form the starting point for sample and data acquisition. This allows for fundamental research to formulate hypotheses and validate potential targets in silico, in vitro, as well as in vivo in mouse models and 3D human skin equivalents. Promising results form the basis for clinical studies to improve diagnosis and treatment in patients.