One in three people suffer from skin disorders worldwide. Therefore, diseases of the skin, the largest organ in the human body, are among the most prevalent conditions for which novel treatments are sought. The last decade has seen a rapid expansion of our knowledge of skin physiology and disease mechanisms, leading to the development of targeted treatments for diseases such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and skin tumours. At the same time, advances in regenerative medicine and biotechnology have underpinned the development of novel products and concepts for treating skin wounds, such as burns and non-healing ulcers. There is also a growing interest in the maintenance of healthy skin, by applying the knowledge derived from basic discoveries not only to treat but also prevent disease and optimise skin longevity and function. We are thus on the verge of an exciting new era in the development of novel selective and effective treatments for skin diseases as well as common skin conditions.
Translational skin research is a new strategic research thrust for the Singapore Biomedical Sciences Initiative. In 2013, the Skin Research Institute of Singapore (SRIS) a tripartite partnership with the National Skin Centre (NHG) and A*STAR Institute of Medical Biology, was established to develop this growing area of basic and translational research. As the skin provides an accessible platform for studies and development of advance drug delivery systems, biosensors and drug eluting patches, there are opportunities for inter-disciplinary research with bioengineers and material scientists from NTU and A*STAR.
Prof David Becker focuses on developing therapeutics to promote tissue repair, whilst reducing inflammation and scar formation, in normal wounds, or kick-starting the healing process in chronic wounds where it has stalled;
Prof Artur Schmidtchen, a clinician scientist, performs translational and interdisciplinary studies on innate immunity, inflammation and host defence peptides and proteins;
Assoc Prof Chew Sing Yian’s research interest lies in the understanding of the combinatorial effects of nanotopography and biochemical signalling on the fate of the cell, and the use of the combinatorial approach to mediate tissue regeneration and host-implant integration. She is currently collaborating with Dr Howard Levinson from Duke University Medical Center to explore the use of nanofibers to deliver nucleic acid therapeutics to modulate dermal/implant fibrosis;
Visiting Prof Paul Martin is an internationally recognised authority on the role of inflammation in wound healing and cancer;
Asst Prof Woo Wei Meng investigates the role of the Hedgehog signalling pathway regulation in hair follicle tissue regeneration and in non-melanoma skin cancers;
Asst Prof Navin Kumar Verma investigates molecular mechanisms involved in T-cell migration and effector functions, and performs multidisciplinary translational research for developing novel therapeutic approaches for immune-mediated skin diseases and cancer; and
Asst Prof Tom Carney’s research focuses on using the zebrafish system to analyse the molecular genetics of the diseases and development of the dermis and epidermis.