Module «Wounds»

The Role of Nerve Cells in Wound Healing

P7 Sommer
Activated peripheral glial cells in mouse skin that upon injury disseminate into the wound bed to support healing

L. Sommer (UZH), S. Werner (ETH), E. Mazza (ETH), M. Berli (Balgrist), L. French (UZH/USZ), J. Hafner (UZH/USZ), N. Lindenblatt, (UZH/USZ)

There is strong evidence that skin innervation supports wound healing. Indeed, neuropathies, as present for instance in diabetic patients, have been associated with chronic wounds. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying this clinical phenomenon remain to be elucidated. Using genetically modified mouse models, we recently found that glial cells in peripheral nerves innervating the skin de-differentiate upon skin injury, disseminate into the wound bed, and promote wound healing. In the frame of this project, we plan to address the role of nerve-derived cells in human well-healing and chronic wounds and to dissect the mechanisms by which these cells support wound healing.



A Systems Biology Approach to Study Stromal-Epithelial Interactions in Wounds and Skin Cancer

Parallels between cancer and wound healing

S. Werner (ETH), U. auf dem Keller (ETH), N. Zamboni (ETH), L. French (UZH/USZ), R. Dummer (UZH/USZ). G. Hofbauer (UZH/USZ)

There are remarkable parallels between wound healing and cancer at the cellular and molecular level, and it has been suggested that tumors use some of the mechanisms of the wound healing process to promote their own growth. Therefore, it is of particular interest to compare the mechanisms underlying wound healing and tumor formation. We address this issue using “multi-omics” analysis of individual cell types isolated from normal and wounded mouse skin and from skin tumors, followed by a functional characterization of interesting candidates. Validation of the results obtained in the mouse model for the human situation will be achieved using 3D organotypic skin cultures of human cells combined with analysis of human skin, wound and tumor samples. This will allow the identification of novel targets for the treatment of impaired wound healing and for skin cancer prevention and therapy. 

Swiss Wound Database

WOUApp scenario
A smartphone app will facilitate the standardized chronological recording of wound images, document healing progress, and upload data to SwissWOU, an anonymous multicenter wound data base.

W. Karlen (ETH), C. Schiestl (UZH/Kispi), M. Meuli (UZH/Kispi), L. French (UZH/USZ), M. Berli (UZH/Balgrist), J. Hafner (UZH/USZ), O. Distler (UZH/USZ/Balgrist)

The aim of this subproject is to establish a framework to capture, annotate, and share wound images. We will design a multicenter database for collecting and managing wound images.

The visual appearance of wounds is extremely broad and varies largely across wound types. The high heterogeneity in shape, size, type, color, placement etc. requires individualized analysis. Computerized methods for analysis of wound images could largely simplify wound assessment. Unfortunately, the development and testing of such methods is hindered by a lack of anonymized image data sets that are annotated by experts. With the help of a specific smartphone wound imaging app for mobile phones we will create a large multicenter database (swissWOU) of diverse chronic and non-chronic wounds that illustrate longitudinal wound healing process. The data set will be collected over multiple years and contain fully anonymized, labeled pictures that match predefined standardized criteria. The images will be freely accessible for research and also contain benchmark data sets and algorithms that allow developers and researcher to validate and compare performance of novel algorithm developments.