Student Profile

Agatha Joseph

Diagnostic scaffolds to guide tissue morphogenesis in wound healing.

PhD Supervisor(s):  Dr Jonathan Aylott, Dr Felicity Rose and Dr Alison McGuigan.


PhD Summary

Wound healing is a complex process involving cell colonisation, matrix deposition and remodelling; requiring multiple cell functions to act in a coordinated manner. The ways in which diverse cell behaviours, eg, locomotion, matrix production and tissue remodelling, interact remains poorly understood. Use of a self-reporting or diagnostic scaffold upon which a model wound can be grown would give insights into the (bio)chemical cues that induce the various stages of wound healing.

Using optically transparent electrospun gelatin scaffolds containing fluorescent nanosensors will provide a 3D network onto which the cellular components present in a wound can be grown. The incorporated nanosensors will provide a diagnostic read-out of key biochemical markers such as pH, oxygen, proteases and cytokines.

While the diagnostic scaffolds will, initially, provide information regarding the biochemical status of the wound, two additional research strands will be explored:

1) To incorporate anti-inflammatory therapeutic agents in the scaffold to improve wound treatment.
2) To develop a diagnostic wound dressing to monitor the overall protease activity of the wound.

The effectiveness of the wound dressing and therapeutic scaffolds can then be validated against the wound model developed on the diagnostic scaffolds.

As part of this project it would be anticipated that the student would undertake a research visit to Dr Alison McGuigan’s lab at the University of Toronto to apply the diagnostic scaffolds to tissue morphogenesis models to further elucidate the underlying processes behind tissue regeneration in wound healing.

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