Jos P.H. Smits and Ellen van den Bogaard (Dept of Dermatology, Theme Inflammatory Diseases) received a prestigious grant from the LEO Foundation, the philanthropic society of LEO Pharma that gives out competitive research grants for curiosity-driven and fundamental research on skin biology and diseases. With this grant (525.000 euro) Jos will return to Ellen’s group after his postdoctoral fellowship with Prof. Bernhard Homey (University of Dusseldorf).
The project called Digging deep for filaggrin’s function in regulating epidermal barrier formation aims to improve the understanding of the emerging role of the skin protein filaggrin (FLG) in regulating and controlling epidermal cell fate and keratinocyte differentiation. Jos discovered that mutations in particular FLG domains affect other genes that are important for terminal differentiation of epidermal keratinocytes. Terminal differentiation of keratinocytes is important for the formation of the skin barrier.
In the newly awarded project, Jos wants to expand his initial findings into elaborate studies using 3D skin organoids, also called “human skin equivalents” combined with in-depth molecular and functional analyses (in collaboration with a European Network of skin scientist, and the groups of Dr. Huiqing (Jo) Zhou (Dept. Developmental Molecular Biology) and Prof. Musa Mhlanga (Dept. Cell Biology) from the Radboud University. The hope is to identify potential new targets for therapeutic interventions in AD by modifying the expression of filaggrin and thereby regulating the barrier function of the skin.
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