Our research aims to develop more effective therapies to treat disease and promote healing throughout the body, thereby benefitting patients.
Our research aims to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating tissue pathology, disease progression and wound repair, in a wide variety of oral, dermal, musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal tissues, associated with underlying factors such as:
- chronic inflammation
By understanding these mechanisms, we aim to develop more effective therapies to treat disease and promote healing throughout the body, thereby benefitting patients.
We have many research projects that support our mission to deliver strong translational knowledge that can be used to improve the treatments available to patients.
Cancer (breast, prostate, head and neck)
One of the major challenges in cancer research is understanding the molecular mechanisms that allow cancer cells to metastasise, evade the immune system, and chemotherapeutic treatments. Our work aims to determine the role of protease enzymes that drive cancer metastasis and recurrence.
Dermal wound healing and scarring
Wounds in the mouth heal extremely well compared to normal skin wounds, as oral mucosal wounds demonstrate minimal inflammation and more rapid healing with reduced scarring. We'd like to understand the mechanisms responsible for these preferential healing responses in oral mucosal fibroblasts, to identify novel pathways to be targeted by newly-developed therapies to help repair and regenerate damaged or diseased tissues.
Similarly, although much is known about the cell biology of scar forming myofibroblast cells, we are also investigating the novel roles that particular genes and proteins have in facilitating myofibroblast formation and scarring.
Non-healing, chronic skin wounds (such as venous and diabetic ulcers), are a significant source of morbidity in ageing societies and a financial burden to healthcare providers. Our research focuses on identifying the mechanisms responsible for impaired cellular wound healing responses in chronic wounds, with the aim to use this information to develop novel therapies to restore healing potential.
Diabetes and bone repair
Clinicians are facing additional challenges for achieving efficient bone repair, due to conditions such as type 2 diabetes and ageing. Our research aims to understand the pathological mechanisms underlying impaired diabetic bone healing at the cellular, molecular and signalling levels; and to identify opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
Host immune mechanisms within tumours and tissue infections
Peripheral blood monocytes are recruited to tumour microenvironments, where their conversion to tumour associated macrophages occurs, either to M1 inflammatory macrophages (anti-tumour) or M2 anti-inflammatory macrophages (tumour growth/metastasis). As the mechanisms regulating M1 and M2 macrophages formation in tumour environments are not completely understood, our research investigates the mechanisms by which tumour microenvironments induce such events.
Oral microbiota are important not only in oral health, but also in systemic health. Host responses to oral microbiota have been linked to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in humans. We're investigating how innate immune cells and macrophages respond to microbial biofilms and the mechanisms involved, which could be used to aid diagnosis and treatment of oral and systemic diseases.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is the leading cause of community acquired pneumonia, with 20% of cases progressing to bloodstream infections and a high fatality rate. Our studies are investigating the responses of regulatory T cells towards Streptococcus pneumoniae, with the aim of utilising these findings to develop novel vaccines against Streptococcus pneumoniae-induced pneumonia.
Natural compound development as anti-cancer and wound healing therapeutics
Despite significant advancements in diagnosis and treatment, there's still a significant clinical need for novel therapies, capable of treating primary, therapy-resistant as well as metastatic cancer. Consequently, we are currently assessing the anti-cancer efficacies and mechanisms of action for a number of novel small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of head and neck cancer.
Similarly, existing therapies aimed at treating impaired healing wounds or excessive scarring situations are established to offer limited benefit to healing outcomes or scar prevention. We're currently evaluating the potential of a number of novel pharmaceuticals, in terms of their abilities to restore or enhance normal healing functions and/or reduced scarring in these patients.
Recently funded projects include:
|2018-2022||PhD Studentship funded by the Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship for Research Excellence and the School of Dentistry||Novel cancer drugs EBC-46 and IngM regulate disintegrin and metalloproteinase (ADAM) activity - Impact on tyrosine kinase signalling in head and neck cancer||£129,973|
|2019-2022||PhD Studentship funded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia||Ophthalmic applications of pomegranate extracts||£105,970|
|2019-2022||PhD Studentship funded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia||Evaluation of the antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and wound healing properties of frankincense (Boswellia frereana)||£107,850|
|2019-2023||Project Grant funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)||The regulation of protective immunity to viruses by L-selectin||£548,955|
|2020-2022||PhD Studentship funded by Phillips Research, The Netherlands||Investigating the effects of blue light on cells of the periodontium||£112,211|
|2021-2023||Research Project Grant funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust, UK||Development of epoxy-tiglianes as novel small molecule therapeutics for impaired re-epithelialisation associated with non-healing, chronic skin wounds in the aged||£298,338|
|2021-2023||Industrial Postdoctoral Research Associate funded by QBiotics Group, Australia||Elucidation of the mechanisms by which epoxy-tiglianes promote preferential wound healing responses in dermal fibroblasts||£272,205|
|2022-2023||Project Grant funded by Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS2) East Wales, and Cultech Ltd||The impact of probiotic bacteria on intestinal barrier function||£22,202|
|2022-2023||Confidence-in-Concept Scheme Award funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), UK||Evaluating inactivation of signalling networks by EBC-46 in head and neck cancers||£34,031|
Meet the team
- Rong, X. et al., 2023. Article TNFR2+ regulatory T cells protect against bacteremic pneumococcal pneumonia by suppressing IL-17A-producing gd T cells in the lung. Cell Reports 42 (2) 112054. (10.1016/j.celrep.2023.112054)
- Ganesh, R. A. et al., 2022. Multi-omics analysis of glioblastoma and glioblastoma cell line: Molecular insights into the functional role of GPR56 in mesenchymal transition. Frontiers in Oncology 12 841890. (10.3389/fonc.2022.841890)
- Büchold, C. et al., 2022. Features of ZED1227: The first-in-class tissue transglutaminase inhibitor undergoing clinical evaluation for the treatment of celiac disease. Cells 11 (10) 1667. (10.3390/cells11101667)
- Schulze-Krebs, A. et al., 2021. Transglutaminase 6 is colocalized and interacts with mutant Huntingtin in Huntington disease rodent animal models. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 22 (16) 8914. (10.3390/ijms22168914)
- Alaidaroos, N. Y. A. et al. 2021. Differential SOD2 and GSTZ1 profiles contribute to contrasting dental pulp stem cell susceptibilities to oxidative damage and premature senescence. Stem Cell Research and Therapy 12 142. (10.1186/s13287-021-02209-9)
- Moses, R. L. et al. 2020. Novel epoxy-tiglianes stimulate skin keratinocyte wound healing responses and re-epithelialization via protein kinase C activation. Biochemical Pharmacology 178 114048. (10.1016/j.bcp.2020.114048)
- Wang, X. et al., 2019. A generic coordination assembly-enabled nanocoating of individual tumor cells for personalized immunotherapy. Advanced Healthcare Materials 8 (17) 1900474. (10.1002/adhm.201900474)
- Mohammed, R. N. et al. 2019. ADAM17-dependent proteolysis of L-selectin promotes early clonal expansion of cytotoxic T cells. Scientific Reports 9 5487. (10.1038/s41598-019-41811-z)
A number of PhD students who a form part of our research group have been recognised for their achievements in recent years:
|Edward Gait-Carr||PhD student||2022||Septodont Poster Presentation Prize, PER/IADR Meeting, Marseille|
|Vildan Celiksoy||PhD student||2020||Postgraduate Research Day Poster Prize, Cardiff University|
|Nadia Alaidaroos||PhD student||2018||Postgraduate Research Day Poster Prize, Cardiff University|
|Glyn Morris||PhD student||2017||Poster Presentation Prize, ETRS Conference, Brussels|
|Glyn Morris||PhD student||2017||Young Investigators’ Oral Presentation Prize, Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering and Repair Meeting, Cardiff University|
External academic collaborators
Professor Glen Boyle, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Australia.
Professor Aras Kadioglu and Dr Rong Xu, University of Liverpool, UK.
Professor Alastair Sloan, University of Melbourne, Australia.
Dr Steven Ogbourne and Dr Fraser Russell, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
Dr Tom Prescott, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, UK.