GCU Skin Research Tissue Bank

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The GCU Skin Research Tissue Bank is a collection of human tissue and cells donated by patients with conditions such as type 2 diabetes and critical limb ischaemia. We also receive donations from healthy patients undergoing elective surgery. The tissue bank has been in operation since 2011 and we work with a network of surgeons in the Glasgow area alongside the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Biorepository. Our ethical oversight and approval is provided by the NHS East of Scotland Research Ethics Service and is currently valid until June 2021.

Our primary research interest concerns diabetic foot ulceration and the impairment of wound healing. We use material from the tissue bank to model this condition and investigate potential therapeutic targets. We are also able to supply tissue and cells to external applicants requiring access to human material for medical research. The GCU tissue bank has supported a range of different projects in diabetic wound healing, vascular problems with diabetes, diabetic retinopathy, Alzheimer’s disease, ageing and psoriasis.

A major focus of funding support 2012-2017 was from the Animal Free Research (formerly the Dr Hadwen Trust), the UK’s leading non-animal medical research charity. During this period we supplied over 75 tissue blocks to external collaborators, 56 vials of fibroblasts and ~20 vials of keratinocytes were used directly in research locally and externally. A further focus of this project was the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells from dermal fibroblasts, using an animal free technologies. The development of human cell and tissue-based models to replace animal experiments is still a key part of our current focus.

From 2017 – present the GCU Skin Tissue Bank continues to provide biopsies and cells for research activities. We have some technical support and are seeking further grant applications for a fully funded Research Assistant to liaise with our clinical and industrial partners. Members of the GCU Tissue Bank work closely with colleagues across Scotland engaged with Dermatology research and the Scottish Skin Biology Club https://blog.dundee.ac.uk/scottish-skin-biology-club/

Funding and collaborations

Current funding:

British Skin Foundation PhD studentship (2020 – 2023)
The control of the gap junction protein Connexin 43 in normal keratinocytes and healing wounds. awarded Prof Sheila Graham (University of Glasgow https://www.gla.ac.uk/researchinstitutes/iii/staff/sheilagraham/ ) and Dr Patricia Martin We are delighted to welcome PhD student Harry Scott to the team who will be working jointly between UoG and GCU. https://www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk/bsf-research-funding   #Connexins .

SULSA Optical Imaging Proof of Principle funding (2019-2020)
Skin Deep: New mesoscopic imaging of large tissue volumes at high resolution awarded to Dr Patricia Martin and Professor Gail McConnell (University of Strathclyde https://www.strath.ac.uk/staff/mcconnellgailprof/ ). Industrial partner Tissue Solutions https://www.tissue-solutions.com/ . We are accessing human skin from the tissue bank with a view to image at high resolution large tissue volumes of normal and diseased skin. GCU are match funding this grant to support the tissue bank and our Research Assistant Dr Boatemaa Ofori-Frimpong.

Other current PhD students:

Khaled Bastaki (GCU) (2016-2020) – funded by a Kuwaiti Scholarship: Investigating the role of high density lipoprotein in wound healing: implications for type 2 diabetes.

International collaborations:

We have supplied tissue to Prof A Baker, University of Texas Austin with several significant publication outputs related https://www.bme.utexas.edu/people/faculty-directory/baker .

Some previous funding:

Animal Free Research (2014-2017)
Improving access to human material for diabetes research. Awarded to Prof Ann Graham and Dr Catherine Wrighthttps://www.animalfreeresearchuk.org/project/improving-access-to-human-material-for-diabetes-research/

Psoriasis Association PhD studentship (2015-2018)
A role for connexin-mediated signalling events in the pathogenesis of psoriasis. Awarded to Dr Patricia Martin and Dr Mozheh Zamiri (consultant dermatologist). PhD student Erin O’Shaughnessyhttps://www.psoriasis-association.org.uk/research/researchresults

Materials available

We hold tissue blocks from >50 individuals (diabetic and non-diabetic) and a stock of derived keratinocytes and fibroblasts available for medical research. We have access to matched proximal and distal leg biopsies from diabetic and normal patients undergoing vascular lower limb bypass surgery.

Our ethics covers the following applications:

  • Fixed, wax embedded skin tissue
  • Primary dermal fibroblasts
  • Primary epidermal keratinocytes
  • Frozen skin tissue for DNA, RNA or protein extraction
  • Generation of iPS cells from patient related material

Please get in touch to request an application form for access to samples. Applications will be assessed by the GCU Skin Research Tissue Bank Committee and approved on the basis of their scientific merit.

There is no charge for access to samples but applicants are expected to cover transport costs and supply appropriate customs declarations where necessary. Successful applicants are also expected to provide annual research updates and include an acknowledgement in all publications using material supplied by the tissue bank. Further details are available on request.

Research outputs

1. Takematsu E, Auster J, Chen P-C, Srinath S, Canga S, Singh A, Majid M, Sherman M, Dunn A, Graham A et al: Transmembrane Stem Cell Factor Protein Therapeutics Enhance Revascularization in Ischemia without Mast Cell Activation. bioRxiv 2020:2020.2004.2006.028563.

2. Takematsu E, Spencer A, Auster J, Chen PC, Graham A, Martin P, Baker AB: Genome wide analysis of gene expression changes in skin from patients with type 2 diabetes. PLoS One 2020, 15(2):e0225267.

3. Martin PE, O'Shaughnessy EM, Wright CS, Graham A: The potential of human induced pluripotent stem cells for modelling diabetic wound healing in vitro. Clin Sci (Lond) 2018, 132(15):1629-1643.

4. Faniku C, O'Shaughnessy E, Lorraine C, Johnstone SR, Graham A, Greenhough S, Martin PEM: The Connexin Mimetic Peptide Gap27 and Cx43-Knockdown Reveal Differential Roles for Connexin43 in Wound Closure Events in Skin Model Systems. International journal of molecular sciences 2018, 19(2).

5. Monteforte AJ, Lam B, Das S, Mukhopadhyay S, Wright CS, Martin PE, Dunn AK, Baker AB: Glypican-1 nanoliposomes for potentiating growth factor activity in therapeutic angiogenesis. Biomaterials 2016, 94:45-56.

6. Lorraine C, Wright CS, Martin PE: Connexin43 plays diverse roles in co-ordinating cell migration and wound closure events. Biochem Soc Trans 2015, 43(3):482-488.

7. Martin PE: Connexins help fill the Gap: markers and therapeutic targets for chronic nonhealing wounds. Br J Dermatol 2015, 173(5):1123-1124.

8. Wright CS, Berends RF, Flint DJ, Martin PE: Cell motility in models of wounded human skin is improved by Gap27 despite raised glucose, insulin and IGFBP-5. Exp Cell Res 2013, 319(4):390-401.

9. Wright CS, Pollok S, Flint DJ, Brandner JM, Martin PE: The connexin mimetic peptide Gap27 increases human dermal fibroblast migration in hyperglycemic and hyperinsulinemic conditions in vitro. J Cell Physiol 2012, 227(1):77-87.

10. Pollok S, Pfeiffer AC, Lobmann R, Wright CS, Moll I, Martin PE, Brandner JM: Connexin 43 mimetic peptide Gap27 reveals potential differences in the role of Cx43 in wound repair between diabetic and non-diabetic cells. J Cell Mol Med 2011, 15(4):861-873.

Conference presentations

O’Shaughnessy E.M, Duffy W, Burden D, Zamiri M, Martin P.E (2018). Characterising the role of connexins in the pathology of psoriasis – British Society for Investigative Dermatology Poster presentation.

O’Shaughnessy E.M, Martin, P.E, Zamiri M. (2017) A Role for Connexin Mediated Signalling in the pathogenesis of Psoriasis – Scottish Dermatology Society Conference, Stirling  2017 (invited speaker (won oral presentation prize).

O’Shaughnessy E.M, Loraine C and Martin P.E. (2016) A role for connexin mediated signalling in the pathogenies of psoriasis (oral presentation, Epidermal Barrier Meeting, Munich Sept 2016 http://www.esdr2016.org/esdr-2016/14th-meeting-european-epidermal-barrierresearch-network)

O’Shaughnessy E.M, Martin, P.E, Zamiri M, Duffy W. (2017) A Role for Connexin Mediated Signalling in the pathogenesis of Psoriasis – International Gap Junction  Conference, Glasgow  2017-poster presentation

C. Faniku, K. Hussey and P.E Martin. The impact of diabetes and ischemia on Connexin and Pannexin expression in the skin. European Society for Dermatology Research, Munich (Poster). Sept 2016

C. Faniku, S. Greenough and P.E Martin. Differences in the role of Cx43 in wound healing in fibroblasts and keratinocytes. International Gap Junction Conference 2017 (Poster) July 2017

C. Faniku,C. Lorraine, K. Hussey, A. Jan, C.S. Wright, B. due Larsen and P.E. Martin. .A novel Connexin 43 peptidomimetic influences wound closure rates and pro-inflammatory mediated events in skin model systems. International Gap Junction Conference 2017 (invited talk) July 2017.

Hussey K, Wright C, Martin P and Stuart WP. Connexin 43 (Ser368) as a marker for ischemia in diabetic foot ulceration. Presented at the Vascular Society meeting 2016;  BJS 2016; 103 (S5): 5–30 .

Hussey K, Kennon B and Stuart WP. University of Texas diabetic ulcer classification the limbs at risk from presentation to a diabetic foot clinic. Presented at the Vascular Society meeting 2015;  BJS 2015; 102 (S2): 1-3 

Media and links

British Skin Foundation: Control of trafficking of the gap junction protein Connexin 43 in normal keratinocytes and healing wounds
2021 January

Greenhough S: How long until we can print human faces in the lab?
2016 March

Dr Hadwen Trust: Improving access to human material for diabetes research: developing the Glasgow Caledonian University research tissue bank for diabetic and non-diabetic skin. https://www.animalfreeresearchuk.org/improving-access-to-human-material-for-diabetes-research

GCU: Diabetes research boost from Dr Hadwen Trust
2014 August

PhD studentships

PhD Studentship - A role for connexin-mediated signalling events in the pathogenesis of psoriasis 2015-2019
Erin O'Shaughnessy, supervised by Dr Patricia Martin - Glasgow Caledonian University