Cytoprotective defence mechanisms during tissue maintenance and repair

Year of award: 2017


  • Dr Helen Weavers

    University of Bristol

Project summary

Our skin is a physical barrier against the environment and it quickly repairs after it is damaged. Inflammatory cells fight off wound infection using toxic chemicals called reactive oxygen species (ROS). Although this bactericidal response is beneficial, high ROS levels are dangerous as they can damage the body’s own cells (including DNA) in a process called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is linked to diseases, ageing, infertility and cancer. ROS are by-products of normal cellular metabolism and many other body tissues are susceptible to oxidative damage. Our bodies have therefore evolved complex cytoprotective defence strategies that minimise this collateral damage.

I will use a multidisciplinary approach, combining live imaging in a genetically tractable Drosophila model with analysis of human disease datasets to explore how vulnerable metabolically active tissues, including kidneys and reproductive organs and damaged tissue that is undergoing repair, detoxify ROS and repair damage to DNA.

This work could have important clinical therapeutic applications relating to ageing, infertility and cancer.