Each year, nearly 11 million people worldwide sustain burn injuries severe enough to require medical attention. These injuries are often associated with significant life-long morbidity, including pain, scarring, and infection. The Gibson lab is interested in studying the basic cellular and micro-environmental requirements necessary for burn wound healing in humans. The minimum dermal elements remaining after burn injury that are required for autologous regeneration of the wound is unknown.
Mouse animal models have been used extensively to characterize wound healing; however, there are concerns about extrapolating the findings given the fundamental differences in skin anatomy and wound healing between rodent models and humans. To avoid using a mouse model and given the access our lab has to human tissue, we are using discarded human skin as an ex-vivo burn model. Additionally, we utilize human burn tissue from UW burn patients through a biobank the Gibson lab has developed. In the near future, we will be developing a porcine burn model as an in vivo burn model to facilitate translation of our research.
We are interested in the contributions of the seed versus the soil (cellular vs extracellular matrix) to wound healing and clinical translation of these findings to improve wound healing in burn patients. We use a variety of techniques including tissue culture, basic histology, immunohistochemistry and molecular biology methods to answer our questions. We are collaborating with an imaging expert (Dr. Eliceiri) at LOCI to utilize advanced imaging methods to understand burn wound healing. We are also collaborating with a collagen chemistry expert (Dr. Raines) to utilize a novel collagen mimetic peptide for diagnostic and therapeutic use in burn injury. Furthermore, Dr. Gibson is the site PI on two multi-center clinical trials of human skin substitutes (StrataGraft®) on burn patients at the UW Health Burn Center.