Contact person:
Johan Engblom
  • The Knowledge Foundation
Responsible at MaU:
Johan Engblom
Collaborators :
  • Bioglan AB
  • Galenica AB
  • In Vitro Plant – tech AB
  • Magle Chemoswed AB
  • Obducat Technologies AB
  • Pampett AB
  • Perrigo Nordic AB
  • Prebona AB
  • QPharma AB
  • RISE Research Institutes of Sweden
  • Sanicare AB
  • Sterisol AB
  • Truly Labs AB
  • Zelmic AB
Time frame:
19 November 2019 - 31 October 2026

About the project

Disorders of biological barriers like skin and mucosa affect everyone from the infant to the elderly. Skin conditions alone were collectively reported as the 18th leading cause of disability adjusted life years (DALYs) and the fourth leading cause to nonfatal burden in the Global Burden of Disease study (GBD) 2013, where the greatest burden from skin disease was attributed to dermatitis. Dermatological findings often are the initial manifestation of systemic disease and dermatological research, education, clinical application, and local and national health support, therefore, are critical tenets for dermatology’s role on the global health platform. With respect to mucosal conditions, the scene is even more complex and not less severe, comprising various types of mucosa in different local and sometimes harsh environments. Thus, solutions improving health and healing of biological barriers are highly desirable.It is becoming increasingly realized that biobarrier health depends on (i) the microbiota, (ii) the physicochemical properties of mucosa or stratum corneum structure (the dead or less biologically active tissue), and (iii) the adequate immune defense ability mainly hosted in the viable tissue.

Ultimate objective

The ultimate objective of this project is to adopt a holistic perspective and utilize the power of multidisciplinary research to generate new knowledge that facilitates development of new and competitive products targeting health, disorders and healing of biological barriers. Project partners will further develop existing expert areas and create a “tool box” for enabling development of sustainable topical formulations, preventing development of broken barriers, exploiting ex vivo models, regulating microbiota, and providing relevant sensing. The vision is to improve health and healing of biological barriers by modernizing clinical treatments and products based on molecular level knowledge, generated by university-industry-clinics collaboration. 


Sustainable topical formulations

The main objective of this subproject is to develop a toolbox for making novel sustainable and multifunctional topical formulations aiming for the following formulation characteristics:

  • WP1: Biodegradable formulations with defined and functional products of degradation.
  • WP2: Preservative – free formulations compatible with environmentally friendly packaging.
  • WP3: Controlled (sustained) delivery
  • WP4: Formulations for a specific uptake route, e.g., intact barrier and broken barrier.
  • WP5: Formulations in the frame of the holistic view on biological barriers.

PI: Vitaly Kocherbitov
Deputy PI: Sabrina Valetti and Johan Engblom

Broken Barriers – How to maintain skin health and avoid a defective barrier

The main objective of this subproject is to answer the question:

How can we manipulate molecular properties of the skin barrier by hydration and topical or transdermal therapy with the aim to stimulate beneficial processes associated with barrier formation and healthy skin?

  • WP1: How do topical and transdermal therapies affect the molecular and macroscopic properties of the skin barrier - Relationship between: (A) active drug/excipients/silicone dressings, (B) skin hydration, and (C) enxyme activity.
  • WP2: What are the key factors required to develop a proper skin barrier and maintain its health. New insights from cell cultures of skin equivalents.
  • WP3: Understanding enzyme function in soft matter. New insights from molecular models of skin barrier components.
  • WP4: From in vitro molecules to in vivo broken barriers. A topical toolbox for the clinician to treat and evaluate broken barriers.

PI: Sebastian Björklund
Deputy PI: Anette Görloff Wingren and Johan Engblom

Ex vivo models

The main objective of this subproject is to develop advanced ex vivo cell- and tissue-derived models for the investigation of healthy and disordered biobarriers such as skin and mucosa.

  • WP1: To validate and develop new ex vivo models of buccal mucosa for oral transmucosal drug delivery.
  • WP2: To develop new cultured cell models of skin and lung enabling multidisciplinary and holistic studies.

PI: Sabrina Valetti
Deputy PI: Lars Ohlsson, Zdenka Prgomet and Tautgirdas Ruzgas

Human mucosae: from molecular understanding to tissue engineering and novel therapeutic opportunities


The general question of this subproject is:

How to promote the sustainability of commensal microbiota and limit the development of pathogenic biofilms?

  • WP1: Monitoring kinetics of microbial biofilm formation on surfaces.
  • WP2: Redox molecules and diversity of microbiota.
  • WP3: Microbiota on biological ex vivo barrier models.

Deputy PI: Tautgirdas Ruzgas and Gabriela Enggren


The main objective of this subproject is to develop wireless sensors for monitoring deterioration and healing of biological barriers.

  • WP1: Development of wireless bacterial sensors.
  • WP2: Implementation of wireless bacterial sensor readable by mobile phone.
  • WP3: Electronic tongues for determination of metabolites in intestinal fluids.

PI: Javier Sotres
Deputy PI: Sergey Shleev and Tautgirdas Ruzgas

Pedagogics and Education

The main objective of this subproject is to develop strategies for collaborative practices for interprofessional learning and interdisciplinary research:

  • WP 1: To explore how collaboration is negotiated and executed in an interdisciplinary research team and the factors that facilitate an interdisciplinary research team´s ability to collaborate.
  • WP 2: The objective is to explore how students can contribute to and learn about research in a real research environment. For this purpose, we want to develop the use of Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP).
  • WP 3: To explore how students can be actively involved with patients when disseminating research results focusing clinical relevance and the patient perspective.

PI: Petri Gudmundsson

Deputy PI: Elisabeth Carlson

This subproject is performed in co-operation with the research platform Research Informed Development of Health Care Education


Clinical Applications

The objectives of this subproject are to justify the choice of adequate skin typing system for improved communication between researchers working in molecular science and in clinical practice; and to create an approach that moderates collaboration between partners seeking translational research.

  • WP 1: Choice of adequate skin typing system
  • WP2: Correlations between qualitative skin classification and biophysical/optical skin parameters.
    WP1 and WP2 will provide the basis for relating qualitative and quantitative skin characteristics with molecular understanding of skin structural features as well as proposing molecularly justified topical treatments for addressing skin health, disorders and healing in context of incontinence and diabetic foot ulcer clinical situations.
  • WP3: Translation of the clinical observations into a comprehensive molecular résumé of the skin barrier

PI: Magdalena Annersten Gershater

Deputy PI: Petri Gudmundsson, Christine Kumlien, Tautgirdas Ruzgas

Documents for project members

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