Prof Sarah Herrick PhD

Senior Lecturer

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Research interests

Tissue Repair

Tissue injury and repair in most organs involves a change in cellular composition and the remodelling of extracellular matrix components. The overall goal of our studies is to understand the fundamental cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in normal turnover of extracellular matrix molecules during tissue repair, the way these processes are altered leading to excessive healing (scarring/fibrosis) and to identify ways of regulating these processes therapeutically.

Damage to the airways through exposure to allergens, infection, tobacco smoke, and pollution can lead to serious chronic conditions such as asthma causing significant patient morbidity and mortality. While the lung displays a certain capacity for repair, often it is overwhelmed by repeated injury resulting in ‘airway wall remodelling’. Our research aims to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in airway wall remodelling by analysing clinical specimens, manipulating experimental in vivo models and developing human airway three-dimensional co-culture systems.

An extremely common problem of surgery in the abdomen is peritoneal adhesion formation where organs, which should normally be separate, become joined by fibrous bands of tissue. Peritoneal adhesions can cause major complications such as intestinal obstruction, chronic pelvic pain and infertility in women. Our previous histological and ultrastructural studies have shown that adhesions were well vascularised and surprisingly well innervated. Current studies are aimed at understanding the role of the initial wound matrix, deposited as a fibrin-rich clot between injured surfaces, and the fibrinolytic proteases involved in its breakdown. We have shown that a defect in fibrin removal results in an accumulation of collagen which leads to subsequent fibrosis and adhesion formation. Another area of interest is identifying a peritoneal ‘stem’ cell and how this may be involved in repair and adhesion formation in the abdomen.

 

 

Methodological knowledge

We are using a number of experimental systems including three-dimensional cell culture systems, in vivo experimental models and human biopsy tissue analysis, as well as a range of cellular, histological, molecular and biochemical techniques to elucidate mechanisms regulating tissue repair disorders.

Projects

Research and projects

No current projects are available for public display