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CITER Undergraduate Summer Student Bursaries 2019

30 September 2019

Ben Karatas 2019

The CITER Summer student Summer bursary provides an opportunity for undergraduates to have first hand experience in a laboratory environment over a six week period in the Summer undertaking specific research projects. This Summer six bursaries were awarded to Academics from three supporting Schools. Below highlights one of the research projects which focused on scarring and wound healing highlighting the impact of CITER funding contribution to translational research.

Dr Stephen Paisey in the School of Medicine was awarded a bursary for Ben Karatas in the school of Biosciences to undertake research in the laboratory working alongside Dr Phil Stephens in the School of Dentistry.  The project title was "Radiolabelling of Exosomes to assess wound site localisation".

Scarring and wound healing has become a large burden on the NHS costing 0.5 and 3.5 billion a year respectively with this only likely to increase with an aging population. Myofibroblasts have been listed as a pathological marker and indicated to cause scarring, fibrosis and poor wound healing.

Based on work by Phil Stephens and Board-Davies et al (2015) it was hypothesised that the therapeutic effects of oral progenitor cells are derived from the exosomes that they produce as opposed to direct action of the cells themselves. These exosomes may potentially modulate myofibroblast proliferation.

We were able to show that exosome treatment does in fact decrease myofibroblast density and collagen deposition as suggested by our hypothesis. Image one and two show the immunohistochemistry data. Image one is the untreated wound and shows a significantly higher smooth muscle actin (red coloration) density, a marker for myofibroblasts than the exosome treated wound than image two. Image three and four show the collagen stain, again the pattern of higher collagen content (red stain is seen in the untreated wound (image 3) compared to the exosome treated wound.

"This has been a very good opportunity for me, I was able to work across many different disciplines, tissue culture, radiolabelling, in vivo work and histological analysis. I worked directly with many experts in the field and was able to conduct research firsthand that lead to successful results. This has very much excited me for a career in research and has given me very useful practical experience".

Ben Karatas, CITER Summer Student 2019

Future work should explore the effect of systemic application of exosomes as well as knockout mouse models in order to fully explore the mechanism that alters extra cellular matrix remodeling which may modulate scarring. In addition, a longer-term experiment where we look directly at scarring and not at collagen deposition, which is only a marker for scarring.

The call for the Undergraduate Summer Student Bursaries 2020 will open on 15 November 2019, application deadline is 13 December 2019 at 16:00 and is open to CITER academic members only. Any undergraduate student interested in undertaking a summer placement in 2020 is encouraged to speak with members of the CITER Research Committee.

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