International partnership explores Vitamin D signalling in Keloid Pathogenesis

Posted on February 07, 2024

In a ground-breaking effort to combat the challenges of keloid treatment, Professor Janette Bester of the Department of Physiology has forged an international partnership with Professors Fiona Wood and Mark Fear from the Burn Injury Research Unit at the University of Western Australia aimed at unravelling the role of vitamin D signalling in the pathogenesis of keloids, particularly in individuals with dark skin tones.

This international collaboration signifies a significant milestone in tackling the complexities of keloid patient management. By uniting diverse specialties and resources, it promotes a holistic approach bridging the gap between clinical practice and fundamental scientific exploration.

The innovative collaboration, initiated in 2021, focuses on unravelling the role of vitamin D signalling in the pathogenesis of keloids, with a specific emphasis on individuals with dark skin tones. This research project holds significant importance, aligning seamlessly with the Sustainable Development Goal 3 and the National Development Plan 2030. Their collective goal is to enhance the health and well-being of individuals affected by keloid disease, contributing valuable insights to pave the way for effective therapies.

The multidisciplinary nature of the collaboration brings together distinguished academics such as Prof Alisa Phulukdaree, Prof Nkhensani Chauke-Malinga, Prof Elias Ndobe, and Prof Mahlatse Kgokolo, along with two postgraduate students, Dr. Jaco Kotze and Mr. Grant Hattingh, spanning various institutions in South Africa.

A pivotal moment in the collaboration occurred during Prof Bester’s visit to the Burn Injury Research Unit at UWA in August 2023 that was made possible by the University Capacity Development Programme. During her visit, Prof Bester engaged in discussions with her collaborative team addressing the present and future directions of their joint research endeavors.

Prof Fear is currently a co-supervisor of Prof Bester’s PhD student, Dr Jaco Kotze. Strategies for expanding research projects, publishing findings, and securing funding for future initiatives were addressed. Prof Bester is excited about the prospect of welcoming Prof Fear to UP, where he will engage with the faculty by presenting lectures on human ethics in research and pursuing international funding in 2024.

This partnership underscores UP’s commitment to excellence in research and innovation, leveraging global expertise to address pressing healthcare challenges.

“This international collaboration signifies a significant milestone in tackling the complexities of keloid patient management. By uniting diverse specialties and resources, it promotes a holistic approach bridging the gap between clinical practice and fundamental scientific exploration. Through these collaborative efforts, the path toward enhanced treatment options and outcomes for keloid patients becomes clearer and more promising”, said Prof Bester.

In discussing the collaborative effort, Prof Bester emphasised its alignment with the faculty’s overarching objectives:  “This collaboration aligns with one of the faculty's objectives, which is to ‘break down the silos’. By integrating clinical and basic sciences we are fostering collaboration across disciplines and aim to address challenges in keloid pathogenesis more effectively”.

In reflecting on the collaboration’s broader impact, Prof Bester explained its role in strengthening the faculty’s international network:  “The partnership serves to fortify the international network of the faculty, fostering greater connectivity and knowledge exchange on a global scale”.

“Establishing a collaborative team may initially appear challenging, but by actively reaching out and connecting with individuals who share similar interests, you significantly enhance the likelihood of achieving outstanding outcomes that surpass what you might initially envision". 

Prof Bester is deeply committed to creating a positive impact in the community through her research endeavors, with a dedicated focus on enhancing the quality of life for patients. She expressed gratitude for being a part of a team that shares this common passion, collectively working towards a shared vision of contributing to a brighter and more promising future for everyone.

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