Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - CLASSIC (deviCes for Light impact on Skin Stem Cells)

CLaSSiC is an interdisciplinary, intersectoral research project, leveraging insights on molecular, cellular and biophysics impact of light on skin stem cells towards novel devices for regenerative therapy. The aging demographic creates a need for effective therapeutic solutions addressing age-related and age-independent skin disorders, including failure of wound healing, hair loss or unwanted hair growth. All have negative psychological impact affecting millions and present significant personal and clinical cost burdens to society. Light therapy, or photobiomodulation, have been showing encouraging clinical efficacy. Translation to commercial devices has already happened, however, the field has developed rather empirically, lacking basic research such that device producers do not fully understand how their devices actually work.

CLaSSiC aims to unlock the potential for new light-based devices for management of skin and hair disorders, while working synergistically with complimentary collaborators in a two-partner network comprising PHILIPS (Netherlands) and the Centre for Skin Sciences (University of Bradford, UK). A board of 8 very experienced supervisors working across disciplines and sectors is in place to train and mentor 3 early stage researchers who a working at superb research facilities at both locations.

The training elements of CLaSSiC combine scientific training in skin biology, biophysics of light interaction with skin stem cells, and device design and transferrable skills training opportunities afforded though the combined academic and industry working environments. All three early stage researchers have been employed since May 2014 and each is working towards a doctoral degree.

Research objectives were established during creation of the project proposal, in 2012. RO1 was amended and extended subsequent to the project start to take account of recent discovery of light receptors in this fast moving field.

RO1 updated: Discover localization of different light receptors at different skin and hair follicle compartments including the stem cell compartments in different body areas and how could this impact the physics of incident visible and near-infrared light pathways in terms of wavelength. This RO has been met through new findings on the localization of different light receptors in skin and the impact on physics of light pathways has been estimated. Results were shared during oral presentation at 2 international congresses [1,2].

RO2: Define molecular mechanisms controlling the activity of skin stem cells mediated by visible and near-infrared light, though these receptors. Work on molecular mechanisms controlling the activity of skin stem cells, i.e., on functionality of light in controlling hair growth and wound healing is in progress. Results accepted for oral and poster presentation at two international congresses later in 2015 [3,4].

RO3: Create fully validated functional optical and physiological skin and hair models, linking physics and physiology, capable of predicting impact of light on skin and hair stem cells in vivo. The most comprehensive meta analysis that has ever been done on light-cell interactions was completed and results shared at an international congress [5] together with results on the impact of high on different skin cell populations [6].

RO4: Translate this knowledge into the most therapeutically and commercially promising areas of focus (wound healing, hair regeneration and/or removal) and specify the biophysical parameter sets including specific spectral region, energy, dose and light direction for design of a novel light-based treatment device. Progress had been made towards this RO by the design and production of two novel, distinct light-based devices with which to study the of biophysical parameter sets for all desired areas (in vitro and ex vivo wound healing models, stem cells culture, hair follicle organ culture). 1st results will be shared during oral presentation at an international congress [7].

In summary, over the first period, scientifically novel and very exciting findings have been made attracting much interest at international conferences. Progress against the research objectives has been excellent. The early stage researchers are working very cooperatively with each other and with the wider supervisory Board and across the two partner laboratories. Daily contacts are taking place and electronic tools are bridging the team across the two locations.

Illustrations of this success can be seen though the list of work already presented at the international conferences or accepted for presentation at a series of international scientific meetings and highlights from these reports demonstrate novelty and strong intellectual input from the students.

1. Castellano I et al: Dermal fibroblasts from different anatomical regions of human skin express visual and non-visual photoreceptors in culture.Poster presented at the Chronobiology Gordon Research Conference Girona, Spain, June 2015.
2. Buscone S et al: Expression of photo-receptors in human skin: implications for light-based therapies for hair and skin health. Oral presentation at the European Society of Photobiology, Aveiro, Portugal, August 2015.
3. Castellano I et al: Expression of visual and non-visual photoacceptors in human dermal fibroblasts: implications for light-based wound healing therapies. Poster and oral presentation accepted at European Tissue Repair Society & the Wound Healing Society, Copenhagen, Denmark, Oct 2015
4. Buscone S et al. Can Hair Follicles “See” the light? Analysis of Light-Sensitive Receptors in Human Hair Follicles. Poster accepted for the World Congress for Hair Research in Miami, Fl, Nov 2015.
5. Mignon C et al: A systematic approach to unravel how light impacts primary human dermal fibroblasts. Talk at the ASLMS April 2015
6. Mignon C et al: Light Parameters in Low-Level Light Therapy. A systematic literature review. Talk at the ASLMS April 2015
7. Dermal fibroblast pools in in vitro and ex-vivo culture: rational approach towards effective light parameters and nuances of cell physiology. Abstract accepted for oral presentation at SPIE Photonic West BiOS, San Francisco, Feb 2016.

The final deliverables of the project will give an unrivalled knowledge on light reception by skin and hair follicle cells; the downstream mechanisms in relation to relevant physiological reactions and the biophysical parameter sets to be used for therapeutic solutions for wound healing and hair regeneration.

The final result addresses a great demand in novel and effective therapeutic solutions for wound healing and hair regeneration. Incidence of chronic wounds is high (1-2% in developed countries, 6.5 million patients, US only) and management of chronic wounds is costly (20 billion dollars annually, US only). Chronic wounds are growing in incidence; pool of patients grows faster than new technologies are reducing the incidence of wounds by healing them. Next, incidence of surgical acute wounds world-wide is 110 millions, where healing faster than 14 days is desired to reduce hospitalization time and improve hospital-to-home transition.

Alopecia areata, age-independent traumatic hair loss, has a 2% lifetime incidence, where science-substantiated therapies with high efficacy are also lacking. Furthermore, lifetime incidence of dermatological diseases is 30 to 70% worldwide, which includes psoriasis vulgaris, atopic dermatitis, acne, and more. Light therapy, or photobiomodulation, have been showing encouraging clinical efficacy. Translation to commercial devices were made, yet, the field has developed rather empirically, lacking basic research.

We believe that the final results will create a strong impact in several areas. First, they will advance the scientific field of photobiomodulation in general (impact on specific existing scientific area). Second, they guide scientists and clinicians towards better defined clinical trials with devices where parameter choice is substantiated by scientific discoveries (healthcare and social-economic impact). Third, they will hopefully pave a path towards a new science – understanding of the role of newly identified light receptors in molecular biology and physiology of skin and hair (impacting new science and education in this area). This could have a wide socio-economic impact, including healthcare sector, science, and education.

Reported by

United Kingdom


Life Sciences
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