Have you ever imagined what it would be like not being able to do basic movements like smiling, talking, walking, or even moving your fingers? Some burns patients struggle with this every day.
Scarring in the skin after experiencing burns not only affects the patients' physical appearance, it poses a limitation on their every motion. This is because elastin, the protein responsible for elasticity in our skin does not regenerate properly once it is damaged. Without elasticity, skin cannot stretch and recoil back to its original form, limiting our every movement. In adults, once elastin is damaged, it does not heal properly, which is why scars are so stiff.
200, 000 people suffer from a range of burns in Australia every year. Surprisingly, there has not been much attention or studies on elastin. However, so far, the Weiss Lab at the University of Sydney has introduced elastin back into wounded skin which has helped the resulting skin to heal better. Elastin has also been observed to accelerate wound repair. Although this technology has been shown to improve wound healing, full recovery of the skin to its original form has not yet been achieved.
Pearl Lee, a PhD candidate in the Weiss lab is using human skin cells in the laboratory to understand how elastin is interacting with our cells in the body to heal wounds. Based on the understanding of this crucial process, we would be able to develop advanced technologies that allow the full recovery of skin.
How The Funds Will Be Used
The funding from this campaign would be put towards supporting young researchers to do new studies with elastin including new ways to help repair damaged skin. This includes scholarships and salaries for researchers. The funding would also be put towards getting the relevant reagents and materials to make synthetic forms of human elastin. Each tier of the pledge describes what each amount represents in terms of translating it to the practical lab spaces.
Our research involves developing a good understanding of how elastin is working in our bodies. This knowledge is crucial to developing advanced technologies that would improve the recovery of skin. In an era where scientific funding is scarce, there has been more emphasis on an end product or prototype and therefore there is less funding being channelled into basic research. However, by understanding the fundamental mechanisms of how wounds are being healed through elastin, only then could advanced technologies be developed.
The methods we have in place is well established. However reagents needed to carry out the project are expensive and therefore not a lot of attention has been paid towards this aspect so far, as there is no "immediate product". Understanding how elastin is working in our bodies to regenerate skin will be the main focus of the laboratory if this funding is granted.