Diseases and defects of the skin affect a large percentage of the population world-wide, and their incidence is continuously increasing. Many of them can cause pain, itch and functional and cosmetic impairments, and some of them, such as Melanoma, even have a high lethality. Due to the importance of the skin as a first barrier to the environment, injuries need to be rapidly repaired, and large acute as well as chronic, non-healing wounds represent severe and common health problems.
SKINTEGRITY addresses the need for more efficient diagnosis and therapy of major skin diseases and of acute and chronic wounds. This requires a thorough understanding of the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms and the identification of biological and physical processes involved in wound repair and skin disease. Development of novel tools for skin disease diagnosis and treatment requires close collaboration between clinicians, biologists, material scientists and engineers.
A total of 26 investigators from different disciplines and institutions put together their knowledge, skills and infrastructure to solve major medical problems related to skin. The individual research projects of SKINTEGRITY group into three modules and one central biobanking project. The module «Skin diagnosis» focuses at developing innovative tools for earlier diagnosis and optimization of follow up of patients with skin diseases. The major goal of the module «Wounds» is to gain a mechanistic understanding of the processes involved in wound healing. The common denominator of the «Skinfactory» module is the production of bio-engineered skin grafts and skin models of human origin used for clinical and experimental applications. The biobanking project that is central to all subprojects aims at building up a biobank with well-characterized biopsies from different types of acute and chronic human wounds and with different isolated skin cells.