The outermost skin layer represents the main skin barrier and this layer is usually referred to as the stratum corneum (SC). The SC represents a thin membrane (ca. 1/50 of a printing paper sheet) that is composed of corneocytes (dead cells), which are embedded in a extracellular lipid matrix. Traditionally, the SC is thought of as non-viable tissue. While this is true, the SC is a dynamic structure in which several enzymes are embedded in a functional state, and these enzymes require a certain amount of liquid water and flexibility of the surrounding matrix.
At present, it is not clear why dry skin and common skin diseases develop in most cases, which is likely due to the complex interplay between overall health status, nutritional aspects, physical exercise, external parameters, such as air pollution, UVR, relative humidity (RH), temperature, etc. Likewise, treatment of wounds, in particular chronic wounds and diabetic foot ulcers, for optimized healing is far from being understood. Considering the complexity of the skin organ, in combination with the presence of multiple external parameters that may affect skin's health status, it is inherently challenging to assign a precise mechanism why even the most common skin diseases develops.
The overall goal of my research is to advance the current understanding of the skin barrier and how it can be overcome for transdermal drug delivery by applying topical formulations. Further, the aim is to understand key processes that are required to maintain a proper skin barrier and a healthy skin organ and if it is possible to alleviate and promote these processes by skin care formulations. In brief, this is achieved by combining well-defined and relatively simple experimental conditions with the complex biological skin barrier system to connect the molecular properties of the skin barrier with its macroscopic barrier properties.