Developing an Innervated Skin Model
Chronic pain and itch are symptoms of skin-nerve interface problems that lead patients to seek medical treatment. Innervated skin models provide a means to study the mechanisms underlying the neuro-cutaneous disorders and are preferable to in vivo animal studies and traditional in vitro monolayer studies for many applications including the measurement of somatosensory transduction. Our laboratory is developing a new innervated skin model in collaboration with Steve Davidson, PhD with the end goal of having a fully human primary cell model to study the mechanisms behind the pain and itch sensations and to investigate methods for treatment in cases of chronic pain and itch. The two significant requirements for an innervated skin model are 1) contact and communication between the sensory neurons and the cells in the epidermis (Figure 1A) and 2) epidermal barrier function similar to that of native skin. To that end we will be investigating different extracellular matrix materials to promote neurite growth within the skin model and we will be studying the barrier function of the model and determining ways to reduce the culture times necessary to achieve physiological barrier function.
Stacey C. Schutte
Assistant Professor, CEAS - Biomedical Eng
848 Engineering Research Cntr