The technology developed herein describes methods to study barrier properties and function of fully stratified, intact epidermal samples from both healthy and diseased subjects. Epidermal samples are isolated by using a Weck blade and are relatively free of dermis. Without the technique described herein, such measurements were not a possibility.
The invention enables relatively precise measurements of epidermal barrier integrity of full thickness human and nonhuman epidermis never before achieved by a variety of tedious, costly and time-consuming KC culture systems. Another important application of this intention is to investigate the effect of various compounds, including drugs, toxins, nanoparticles, microbial agents and other biologics on epidermal barrier function or KC gene expression. Additionally, this invention will be an ideal system to evaluate the pharmacology and toxicology of systemic and topical drugs/biologics.
The use of the Weck blade makes this invention possible as it cleanly separates the epidermis from the dermis and therefore avoids the use of enzymes such as trypsin or diapase commonly used to separate the epidermis from the dermis. The more “traditional” method of using enzymes among others can affect the structural integrity of the sample and alter the viability of the epidermal specimen to be studied. Additionally, this invention will allow testing of various compounds on intact human and nonhuman skin/epidermis from both discarded skin samples as well as from subjects with specific diseases or disease states that might affect epidermal barrier and allow their comparison to healthy subjects.