News & Events


Charles Seminar Series 2020-21: Preclinical development of oligonucleotide therapeutics in an ex vivo skin model , with guest speaker Dr Robyn Hickerson, Wednesday 9th June at 12PM (via Zoom)

Published: 04 June, 2021


Date of Talk: 9th June 2021 at 12PM

Talk Title: Preclinical development of oligonucleotide therapeutics in an ex vivo skin model    

Speaker Details; Affiliation: Robyn Hickerson, PhD, University of Dundee, School of Life Sciences, Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery   

Keywords: Genetic disease, oligonucleotide therapeutics, ex vivo skin model

Short Biography: Robyn Hickerson is a nucleic acid biochemist trained at the University of Utah and the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her primary academic research at the University of Dundee focuses on drug discovery for rare genetic skin disorders. A major arm of this program is focused on development of nucleic acid-based therapeutics for the treatment of pachyonychia congenita and epidermolysis bullosa. 

Abstract for talk: Despite great advances in identifying causative genes, the development of therapies for hereditary diseases of the skin remains slow. Gene therapy in the form of oligonucleotides represents a promising therapeutic avenue for the treatment of genetic skin disorders. A major impediment to the development of these potential therapeutics is the lack of a robust, reproducible system for longer-term organ culture of human skin. Critical epidermal functions, e.g. maintaining skin barrier function, are often poorly recapitulated using 3D organotypic cultures, and human skin cultured using current techniques begins to lose viability as soon as the tissue is removed from the body. We have developed an ex vivo culture system that maintains the mechanobiology of living skin, keeping it in a more homeostatic state, which offers a more appropriate platform to screen and characterise oligonucleotide therapeutics for the treatment of a variety of genetic skin disorders. 

If you are UCD-affiliated or a Consultant Dermatologist in Ireland and would like to register for this talk, please email