In our research laboratory we are investigating the root causes of the human diseases, Raynaud's phenomenon and scleroderma. By understanding the underlying abnormality in these diseases we will be in a position to provide clinical researchers with the information that they require to develop useful therapies and, in due course, a cure.
Scleroderma causes changes in the small blood vessels of the skin and internal organs. New autoantibodies against the connective tissue cells appear and the body's immune system causes damage resulting in connective tissue fibrosis (similar to scarring). The fibrotic process may be limited to the skin but it often affects other internal organs such as the lungs, the kidneys, the heart and the digestive system, with serious consequences.
A number of research projects are underway in the laboratory and as collaborative programmes which are aimed at directly addressing some of the most important aspects of the disease processes.
- The role of growth factors, cytokines and chemokines in scleroderma
- Understanding the changes in that take place in the fibroblast in scleroderma
- The development of model systems for scleroderma
- Changes in blood vessels in scleroderma
- Measurement of circulating factors (plasma/serum) that influence the diseases process
- Assessment of new and novel therapies
Our research continues to receive exceptional and long-term research support from:
- Raynaud’s and scleroderma Association: a joint programme grant held with Professor Athol Wells, Royal Brompton Hospital, understanding the development and treatment of pulmonary fibrosis
- Arthritis Research UK: grants supporting studies into the role of the epidermis in scleroderma and the influence of growth factors that drive the excessive scarring process
- Medical Research Council: to study the links between blood vessel damage and fibrosis, and to develop and study new and novel models systems for vessel disease and fibrosis in scleroderma; to further study the interactions between different cell types in the skin, and; to study a novel protein that appears to be involved in blood vessel disease.
- Scleroderma Society: a project grant from the to study the role of contractile proteins in scleroderma
Research articles and chapters from the department can be found on PubMed.