Chronic non-healing skin ulcers, excessively scarring wounds, inflammatory skin diseases, and skin cancer are very common pathologies associated with excessive/chronic inflammation. Unfortunately, the therapeutic options are still limited and morbidity/mortality remains high. Remarkably, crucial pathogenic mechanisms of these three groups of skin diseases overlap, making their combined analysis highly promising. SKINTEGRITY.CH brings together major experts in basic and clinical research, (bio)engineering and bioinformatics from different institutions. This permits the implementation of an interdisciplinary approach to tackle major medical problems. Through analysis of the molecular, cellular and biophysical mechanisms responsible for abnormal inflammation and associated pathologies, we aim to identify the driving factors for wound healing disorders and inflammatory and malignant skin diseases as well as novel targets for therapeutic intervention. This will allow the development of novel devices and drugs for the treatment of these disorders and of strategies for their improved diagnosis.
Specifically, the scientific plans include (i) identification and functional characterization of biochemical and biophysical factors and of different cell types that control normal and impaired wound healing, (ii) development of delivery strategies and of mechanical devices for the treatment of impaired wound healing and prevention of scar formation, (iii) analysis of the role of the microbiome in inflammatory skin disease, (iv) analysis of the role of different T cell subsets in inflammatory skin disease and skin cancer, (v) characterization of the role of epigenetic alterations in inflammatory skin disease and skin cancer, (vi) use of single cell technologies to understand cancer development and progression and response to major cancer drugs, (vii) development of novel strategies for personalized cancer treatment and – as a prerequisite for all projects – (viii) the continuation of the skin Biobank project and the development of in vitro generated skin equivalents and of biomaterials to study skin functions in health and disease.