Matrix Biology and Tissue Repair

Our research aims to understand and manipulate the interface between extracellular matrix (ECM) and the diversity of cells in the craniofacial complex.

Our goals are:

  • To elucidate and counteract pathological processes leading to tissue destruction in inflammation, cancer and ageing, and   
  • To create functional tissue through application of life science principles.

It has become clear that the ECM and its interaction with various cells are critically important to regulate inflammation, repair/regenerative processes and invasive cancers. Connective tissue cells control migration, survival and proliferation of endothelial and epithelial cells as well as recruitment and activation of antigen presenting cells that orchestrate the inflammatory response. Altered connective tissue cell responses are associated with many diseases, either because of direct involvement in the etiology or because of the fibrosis that accompanies the tissue damage. Experimental models have been established within the group to decipher cellular interactions regulating distinct aspects of the repair and disease process. These relate to inflammation, angiogenesis, re-epithelialisation, cancer stromal cell interactions and ECM changes occurring with ageing. The emphasis is to gain a molecular understanding of the role of post-translational modifications of proteins in organ system function, and how aberrant protein modifications or proteolysis contributes to pathogenesis.

Our Research

Key areas of current activity are:

Osteoarthritis
The role of inflammation: metalloproteinases, transglutaminases, post-translational protein modification, biomarker development in association with the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering Centre

Gluten sensitivity
Autoimmune response to transglutaminase: mechanism of extraintestinal disease manifestation, particularly CNS disease, development of new diagnostic modalities in association with the Sheffield Institute of Gluten-Related Diseases

Cancer (prostate, breast and CNS) and inflammation
The role of metalloproteinases in cellular signalling, design of novel therapeutic approaches

Details on specific projects can be found on the team members web pages. Click the people tab above for more information.

Our Impact

Patients benefit from our research:

Gluten sensitivity-associated neurological dysfunction
Our research has directly contributed to the definition of a new disease entity (a gluten-mediated disorder presenting primarily as neurological dysfunction), linked it molecularly to an autoimmune process, developed a biomarker facilitating diagnosis and thereby enabling timely intervention and therefore prevention of debilitating damage to the central nervous system.

Related Links:  Coeliac UK
                          The Sheffield Ataxia Clinic

A step-change in management of osteoarthritis
The Centre of Excellence established in Cardiff is a cross-School multidisciplinary network of researchers established to address the 'big' questions in the area of joint disease. Novel biochemical biomarkers for diagnosis and stratification of patients, as well as to assess prognosis and effect of therapy is the main focus of our research within this program. Detailed information can be found on the Arthritis Research UK Biomechanics and Bioengineering web site.

Related Links: Arthritis Research UK

Technology development
ELISA for TG6 autoantibodies
Real-time assay for transglutaminase activity

Selected publications

Our partners

Our research is aligned to major initiatives that aim to tackle the big questions in specific areas of biomedicine. This enables us to integrate our expertise in critical mass groupings to facilitate state-of-the-art discovery research to enhance the understanding of biological processes and to enable research translation for the benefit of patients:

Our funders

The following organizations have provided substantial support for our research programs and research infrastructure (last 5 years):

Our industry collaborators

We have joint programs with industry to enable research translation:

Zedira, Darmstadt, Germany

Our external academic collaborators

We have established a network of collaborations with key research groups in our research area nationally and internationally:

UK:
Dr Yvonne Alexander, University of Manchester
Professor Charles Archer, Swansea University
Dr Alison Gartland, University of Sheffield
Professor Marios Hadjivassiliou, Dr Nigel Hoggard, Professor David Sanders, & Professor Nicola Woodroofe, Royal Hallamshire Hospital/Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield
Dr Joanna-Marie Howes & Professor Richard Farndale, University of Cambridge

International:
Dr Bela Anand-Apte, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA
Dr Anne Collins & Professor Norman J. Maitland, YCR Cancer Research Unit, University of York, UK
Professor Julio Bai, Carlos Bonorino Udaondo Gastroenterology Hospital Buenos Aires, Argentina
Dr Manuela Basso, University of Trento, Italy
Dr Sabrina Boscolo, Dr Tarcisio Not & Dr Enrico Tongiorgi, University of Trieste, Italy
Dr Vladena Bauerová-Hlinková, Professor Jozef Ševčík, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia
Dr Martin Hils & Dr Ralf Pasternack, Zedira, Darmstadt, Germany
Professor Kyotaka Hitomi, Nagoya University, Japan
Dr Alexandra Johnson & Dr John Lawson, Sydney Children's Hospital, Sydney, Australia
Professor Katri Kaukinen, Professor Markku Mäki & Professor Timo Reunala, University of Tampere, Finland
Professor Jeffrey Keillor, University of Ottawa, Canada
Dr Gunnar Kleinau & Dr Heike Biebermann, IEPE, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
Professor Mats Paulsson, Dr Miklos Sardy, & Dr Neil Smyth, University of Cologne, Germany
Professor Boris Pokusaev, Moscow State University of Environmental Engineering, Russia
Dr Patricia Rousselle, CNRS, IBCP Lyon, France
Professor Ludvig Sollid & Dr Jorunn Stamnaes, University of Oslo, Norway
Dr Reidun Stenberg, University of Örebro, Sweden
Professor Zsuzsa Szondy, University of Debrecen, Hungary

Academic staff

Yr Athro Daniel Aeschlimann

Professor of Biological Sciences

Email:
aeschlimanndp@caerdydd.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 (0)29 2074 4240
Konrad Beck

Dr Konrad Beck

Lecturer in Protein Biophysics

Email:
beckk@caerdydd.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 29207 42639

Dr Sharon Dewitt

Cardiff Academic Fellow

Email:
dewitt@caerdydd.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 29207 44509

Dr Vera Knauper

Senior Lecturer

Email:
knauperv@caerdydd.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 29207 42595