The ECMage network focusses on the ageing of extracellular matrix (ECM), a major structural & functional determinant of tissue resilience with remarkable tissue specificity. Our tissues comprise of cells and >1000 ECM proteins. The ECM facilitates cell-matrix and cell-cell communication, and exchange of nutrients and growth factors. The ECM undergoes structural changes with age, leading to accumulation of fragmented, cross-linked ECM proteins and loss of ECM ligands. Alterations to ECM underpin many age-related tissue changes, such as loss of elasticity, poor healing, scarring, abnormal growths and entry into senescence, a hallmark of ageing. Remarkably, ECM is a target of daily changes governed by our ~24h (circadian) time-keeping mechanisms, highlighting ECM as a malleable driver of tissue ageing. However, there is a critical need to understand how ageing alters the ECM of specific organ/tissue systems, how age-associated ECM impacts tissue-specific deterioration and the roles of specific cell sub-types involved.
The EcMage network brings together complementary expertise in key aspects of ageing, matrix biology, chronobiology, AI/computational modelling and tissue engineering across UK to develop novel models to study ECM ageing, particularly 3D biological models, new biomaterials to mimic tissue-specific ECM and in silico models to predict novel anti-ageing therapies. Working together, sharing models, technologies, knowledge and expertise, we will strategically address challenges in ageing research with a view to generate paradigm-shifting discoveries with long-term benefit of improving lives and outcomes for older people.
To join the ECMage Network please complete the form:
Dr Elizabeth Laird
Reader in Musculoskeletal and Ageing Science, University of Liverpool
Prof Matthew Dalby
Professor of Cell Engineering, University of Glasgow
Dr Vanja Pekovic-Vaughan
Senior Lecturer in Musculoskeletal Physiology, University of Liverpool
Dr Daryl Shanley, Newcastle University
Reader in Systems Biology of Ageing
Dr Lisa White
Associate Professor in Biomaterials, University of Nottingham
Dr Joe Swift
Research Fellow, The University of Manchester
ECMage Network Manager