Professor Deirdre Coombe
- Immune disorders
Deirdre is driven to develop low-cost treatments for some debilitating age-related diseases, to ensure they are accessible to all who need them. Having been with CHIRI since its inception, Deirdre brings a wealth of commercial experience to her research, predominantly in cancer (including melanoma), epithelial wound healing and inflammatory disease.
As we age our ability to heal and generate new skin becomes impaired. Deirdre’s team is investigating how the extracellular matrix, a complex mixture of proteins and carbohydrates which holds skin cells together in skin tissues, changes from foetus age to adulthood. The team is finding the changes to be profound and to have a direct influence on the cells’ behaviour, providing hope their work may inform the development of future treatments for patients with skin-related injuries including burns, or to replace skin lost in the removal of skin cancer.
Another area of Deirdre’s work is the development of carbohydrate-based therapeutics for inflammatory disease, focusing on asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The effects of these diseases can drastically reduce quality of life, especially for the significant percentage of patients who are unresponsive to corticosteroids – the main disease controlling therapy currently offered. Often patients with severe disease also face a financial burden with the specialist drugs targeting their type of disease being unaffordable for many.
If Deirdre’s team succeeds in developing a carbohydrate-based therapeutic it could greatly improve the quality of life of people of all ages with these and potentially other inflammatory diseases.
Research interests – allergic inflammatory disease; metastatic melanoma; epithelial wound healing; cell-extracellular matrix interactions; regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.