ECMage Themes

Mechanisms and Interventions
Led by Dr Vanja Pekovic-Vaughan

Advanced Technologies

The study of ageing extracellular matrix (ECM), and the interactions between ageing cells and ageing ECM, has been driven by the recent development of ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES across a range of research disciplines. These include: (i) multi-omics approaches, that combine genomics, RNA-sequencing, mass spectrometry proteomics, characterisations of post-translational modifications, and metabolomics; (ii) spatially-resolved and single-cell -omics; (iii) biomechanical characterisation, such as through atomic force microscopy (AFM) and rheometry; (iv) advanced microscopy techniques, such as high resolution light and electron microscopies; and, (v) spectroscopy methods such as Raman, x-ray scattering and diffraction, optical photothermal infrared (OPTIR) microspectroscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). These have been used in combination with a range of molecular biology techniques, such as CRISPR and optogenetics. The ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES theme will bring together researchers in ECM ageing research to address key questions, such as how new methods can best be applied and combined, how complex data should be shared and mined, and how experimental technologies can be advanced by computational and bioinformatic integration. The ADVANCED TECHNOLOGIES theme is led by Dr Joe Swift, whose laboratory applies proteomic methods to understand the relationship between the compositions, mechanical properties and functionality of ageing tissues.

Computational models

Computational modelling is an ideal means to address the complex biochemical and physiological processes involved in ageing of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Approaches to modelling the ECM include ordinary differential equation (ODE) models and agent-based models (ABMs). ODE models are frequently used to model the dynamics of biochemical reactions involved in ECM maintenance. ABMs are particularly well-suited for modelling the complex, heterogeneous interactions at the cellular level that result in the emergence of spatial and temporal dynamics at the tissue level. A particular aim of the COMPUTATIONAL MODELLING theme is to encourage collaboration between members with modelling and data generation expertise. It is led by Dr Daryl Shanley a Reader in Systems Biology of Ageing, Newcastle University.

Tissue Engineering and Novel In Vitro Models
Led by Dr Lisa White