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Skin immunology: case study

On the surface: understanding the interactions between skin cells and the immune system

Principal investigators:
Professor Silvia Bulfone-Paus,
Professor Rachel Watson,
Dr Catherine O’Neill,
Professor Lesley Rhodes,
Professor Ralf Paus,
Professor Richard Warren,
Professor Christopher Griffiths.

We are investigating how the immune system interacts with skin cells to maintain tissue homeostasis, induce immune responses or cause skin disease.

This is a collaborative effort between the investigators at The University of Manchester and the clinical academics at Salford Royal Foundation NHS Trust.

In more detail we are focusing on understanding:

  • the contribution of immune granular cells (for example mast cells) to skin physiology and acute and chronic inflammation;
  • the inflammatory signalling pathways, including Langerhans’ cells, cytokines and microbiome that drive psoriasis;
  • the contribution of innate immune cells to skin carcinogenesis;
  • the role of immune cells in hair growth and hair disease;
  • the interaction between UV, microbiome and skin;
  • the inflammatory and immunomodulatory pathways underlying the photodermatoses;
  • the alteration and contribution of innate and adaptive immune cells to the course of skin ageing.

Our research is primarily in vivo but makes use of human primary immune cells, skin organ cultures, skin biopsies and pre- and post-treatment clinical samples. We have a unique opportunity to understand disease mechanisms and develop new therapeutic entities.