The project combines our long-standing interest in determining how Wnt signalling contributes to lung development and repair with bioengineering approaches to target protein delivery to the lungs.
We will determine whether administering Wnt5a (a potential pro-repair protein) to the lungs can strengthen the capacity that the lungs already have to repair themselves. This protein has been shown to stimulate lung stem cells after injury occurs and it is these stem cells that are needed to drive the lung repair process. However we don’t yet understand exactly how the Wnt5a protein carries out this key role and this is what we will determine. We will use time-lapse imaging to video the response of lung cells to Wnt5a treatment and track exactly how this protein stimulates repair. As part of this proposal we will also encase Wnt5a protein in tiny particles of gel and formulate a Wnt5a-gel treatment that can be administered to the lungs to stimulate repair. Encasing Wnt5a in a degradable gel will enable sustained and targeted administration of this treatment.
Dr Sally Kim has been integral to the development of this project which she will co-lead through her role as a researcher co-investigator.