Investigation into the Cellular Effects of Exfoliation in a Novel Human Bioengineered Skin Equivalent

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Biosciences


Exfoliation,or removal of the skin's uppermost cells resident in the stratum corneum,is a consequence of many beauty and grooming regimes,most notably,the act of shaving.Shaving is well-known to have a detrimental impact on skin health,for example skin irritation and barrier damage. We propose,through this project, a means to model and understand skin exfoliation and mimic shaving in vitro utilising a well-characterised bioengineered skin model technology.The project will build on existing research conducted within the group,whereby the robustness of a novel in vitro bioengineered skin equivalent has been validated.Initial pilot work has demonstrated the use of tape strip technology to remove layers of the stratum corneum.The aim of this project is to further develop and characterise a methodology to study the molecular and cellular mechanisms that are stimulated by exfoliation in vitro.This project will utilise cutting edge technology in the form of human bioengineered skin developed in collaboration with P&G combined with a novel method of exfoliation to address the following objectives:
1.Optimisation & Characterisation of Tape Stripping:This student will optimise the use of tape strip technology to mimic skin barrier damage in vitro.The cellular impact of this will be measured through a range of analytical techniques,including transcriptomics,analysis of proliferation markers,epidermal thickening and transepidermal water loss (TEWL).We hypothesise that tape stripping will invoke a mild wound healing response resulting in keratinocyte hyperproliferation, epidermal thickening and impact barrier function.
2.Mechanical Insult:Alongside investigating the effect of tape stripping on the skin's barrier,this project will also aim to investigate the specific cellular effects that ensue following a physical insult to the skin.Mechanical damage can be achieved through a number of methods including: razor-damage,wounding,excoriation or scratching. This will provide valuable insight into the cellular and molecular effects of wound healing in skin,whilst providing relevant data on the biological effects of shaving to benefit the industrial sponsor.
3.Application of Skincare Products & Actives:Preliminary data suggest that inflammatory responses induced by exfoliation may be attenuated by post-insult moisturisation.This project will probe this idea more deeply,investigating actives,formulations and regimes that are able to reduce some of the cellular changes that arise post-insult.
4.Application of a Neurosensory Skin Equivalent:Post-shave irritation is often perceived as a sensation induced by the exposure of neuronal cells within the skin tissue.As part of our platform skin technologies,we have developed models that include sensory neurons.The student will investigate the activation of nerve fibres following insult to the skin surface.This will provide valuable insight into the unwanted sensations that arise post-shave,but also into the fundamental biological processes that are induced post-insult.
5.Application of an Immunocompetent Skin Equivalent:We hypothesise that many of the cellular changes that occur following exfoliation are the consequence of an inflammatory response.To better understand this,this project will utilize an immunocompetent version of the platform skin technology, that includes Langerhans and dendritic cells.Through exfoliation of an immunocompetent model, this project can better elucidate the cytokine cascade and cellular consequences of this inflammatory response that ensue following skin insult. This project will combine investigations into fundamental biological principles with industrial partnership. Through better understanding the cellular and molecular events that arise post-skin insult,this research will provide insight into the process of wound healing and allow for identification of points where interventions may alleviate adverse reactions.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/X511316/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2026
2748711 Studentship BB/X511316/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2026