The research group Senescence and Healing of Wounds (SHoW) aims to investigate why the normal progression of healing breaks down in some skin wounds, leading to chronic conditions. It is particularly interested in determining the role of senescent cells in such wounds.
The vision of the ShoW research group is to develop research and coordinate activities that improve the quality of care for people suffering from non-healing wounds. Integral to this vision is the believe that people concerned by non-healing wounds – patients as well as the professionals caring for them – ought to be partners in setting priorities and framing appropriate investigative strategies. SHoW further banks on the contribution of the social sciences in addressing a biomedically challenging and societally relevant problem. The goal is to create research that is as scientifically original as it is relevant to the communities it serves.
The Research Platform
The healing of wounds after trauma is to a certain degree influenced by age and may be aggravated by disease (e.g. diabetes). Due to our aging population, these age-related treatment problems are increasing steeply. Since certain processes in wound healing seem blocked, SHoW wants to identify the underlying reasons for this and manipulate this stagnation so that non-healing wounds can heal.
The persistent presence of senescent cells in wounds is believed to thwart a healthy healing response. Senescent cells are defined by being irreversibly growth arrested and associated with a specific gene expression and secretory pattern. While senescent cells can be targeted with senolytic drugs, their modulatory role in chronic wounds is largely unknown.
Extracellular vesicles (EV), including exosomes, have recently gained immense interest due to their role in intercellular communication, immunity, tissue regeneration as well as in the onset, and progression of various pathologic conditions. Knowledge on EV profiles across wound types and associated co-morbidities would be beneficial for the patient in the form of diagnostic/prognostic (individualized) therapeutic wound management.
This biomedical research agenda will be complemented by a social scientific subproject whose precise focus is currently being discussed by the project team.
The Co-Creation Space
The Co-Creation Space is SHoW’s second program line and the framework for capturing the social context in which the diagnosis of ‘non-healing wound’ exists. It pursues practical inquiry through building a network of concerned and interested actors, whose need for practice-relevant knowledge it will assess. Further, the co-creation space will examine what kind of coordination and communication challenges there are in the wound healing ecosystem. The outcome of this practical inquiry will, on one hand, feed back into the biomedical research program where it will inform decision about the implications of different project trajectories. On the other hand, communication and coordination actions will be designed on the basis of these insights to improve the visibility, governance and practice of wound care.
The prioritization process behind SHoW
The groundwork for SHoW has been prepared through an Open-Innovation-in-Science initiative. In 2018, the LBG OIS Center and the LBI Trauma launched the campaign "Tell us! - about accidental injuries” to gather neglected research questions. More than 800 research questions were submitted, 80% of them by patients and the remaining 20% by experts. A co-creation process was used to group similar questions into clusters, followed by a community voting. The three most highly ranked topics - wound healing, rehabilitation and aging – formed the basis for a workshop with lead users and experts, which resulted in the topic of “Senescence and Healing of Wounds”.
SHoW will run from October 1st, 2020 to September 30th, 2024 (4 years). It is a collaboration between the Ludwig Boltzmann Gesellschaft (LBG) and AUVA (Allgemeine Unfallversicherungsanstalt) centered on an Open Innovation in Science approach. SHoW will share infrastructure and closely integrate with the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Clinical and Experimental Traumatology (LBI Trauma), a long-standing collaboration venture between LBG and AUVA.
|Prof. Dr. Heinz Redl – Co-Director, Scientific Director|
|Raffael Himmelsbach, PhD – Co-Director, Open Innovation Manager|
|Mikolaj Ogrodnik, PhD – Principal Investigator|
|Veronika Hruschka, PhD – Co-Investigator, Project Manager|
|Cornelia Schneider, MSc – Co-Investigator, Science Communication|
Susanne Windwarder, Administration