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Wound Biology

Oral Mucosal Lamina Propria-Progenitor Cells for tissue repair:
Wounds in the mouth heal extremely well compared to normal skin wounds in that they demonstrate little or no scarring. We have been investigating the cells from soft tissues within the mouth and have demonstrated that they are different to skin cells and in fact are more like foetal cells.  This suggested that the cells from the mouth may actually be more like stem cells.  Our recent work has identified such a stem cell−like cell within the mouth that can make various tissue types, are potent at down-regulating the immune system and have anti-bacterial properties.  Hence, such cells may be useful to (a) help repair/regenerate damaged or diseased tissue, (b) help down-regulate the immune system during transplantation or after individuals have suffered from an auto-immune diseases and (c) be useful in combating infections/cancer.  Importantly, because tissue containing the oral cells is easy to access and heals without a scar this could be the preferential source for stem cells for future patient therapy (patents awarded and filed; funded by the MRC).

Chronic wound healing:
We have had a long-term interest in the spectrum of wound responses including those that do not heal (chronic venous leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers).  We have already demonstrated, through our in vitro analyses, that the molecular and cellular responses of fibroblasts from chronic wounds are dysfunctional.  This includes our observations that chronic wound fibroblasts demonstrate premature senescence which impacts on their ability to drive repair of the wound due to a lack of production of several key chemokines.  We are now developing these chronic wound cells strains into well characterised chronic wound cell lines which may have the potential to replace some animal experimentation for the future pre-screening of materials which may have beneficial effects for chronic wound sufferers.

Stem cell tracking
One of the major barriers to translation with respect to tracking stem cell lineage/fate has been the ability to image cells within 3D tissues in real time. Traditionally, this has been attempted using fluorescence-based light imaging techniques with 3D sectioning capabilities such as laser-scanning confocal or multi-photon microscopy to provide quantitative, real-time imaging of cells. However, such an approach is limited due to photobleaching and the phototoxic effects of the fluorochrome label/moiety utilised.  Hence we are working across disciplines (Physics and Chemistry) to develop novel, non-destructive imaging modalities (PET and MRI-based) to track stem cells and their progeny in real time in patients (funded by the EPSRC).

Current Grants:

MRC Confidence in Concept Award (2014-2015)


Paola Borri/Wolfgang Langbein – Cell-based CARS analysis
Elijah Ablorsu – Oral progenitor cells for whole organ repair
Steve Paisey/Ian Fallis/Angelo Amoroso – Novel methods for stem cell tracking
Alastair Sloan/Lindsay Davies – Oral progenitor cells as anti-bacterial agents
Rachel Errington – Cell lineage determination
Bing Song/David Barrow – Stem cell delivery
Chris Wright/Karl Hawkins (Swansea) – Rheology-based measurement of cellular responses
Mark Bass (Bristol) – Chronic wound healing
Zhidao Xia (Swansea) – Chronic wound healing

Recent Awards

Phil Stephens: Welsh Livery Guild Merit Award (2012)
Rachel Howard-Jones: Poster Prize (Cardiff University Postgraduate Research Day, 2009), Oral Prize (Cardiff University Postgraduate Research Day, 2011), BSODR Senior Colgate Prize (2012), Poster Prize TCES (2014)
Adam Glen: TCES Oral presentation prize (2013)
Emma Board Davies: CITER Oral presentation prize (2014)