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The mechanical, chemical and biological properties of human skin may be challenged when in contact with another surface e.g. immobilized persons supported on a bed or in a wheelchair, amputees wearing a prosthesis, and individuals with orthoses or functional medical devices attached to the skin. This can result pressure ulcers, particularly in the elderly and those with comorbidities such as diabetes. Skin condition is also critical during interactions with personal care products such as creams, shavers, grooming devices, therapeutic lamps or massage equipment, which can result in various forms of irritation. The main scientific aim of STINTS is to understand the complex biomechanical and biochemical pathways leading to loss of skin integrity, following the exposure of the skin to prolonged pressure and shear forces that ultimately result in damage at the cellular level. The objective is to reduce the huge societal and financial costs of pressure ulcers by improving (a) the design of more effective preventative aids (mattresses, shoe insoles, incontinence products etc.), (b) early stage diagnosis (non-invasive biomarkers and sensors, and smart materials) and (c) ultrasound therapy. The new understanding of skin behaviour will also be exploited by application to personal care products (razors that cause minimal skin irritation and skin creams with more efficacious skin hydration and barrier properties). These objectives will be achieved by the deployment of experts in multi-scale computer simulation, experimental cellular and tissue biomechanics, biophysical monitoring, sensor design, medical devices and materials, and clinical studies. STINTS will create an ambitious environment of supradisciplinary inter-sectoral research training for early stage researchers that combines the needs for the creative skills of academic and industrial researchers, the entrepreneurial drive of the private sector and clinical innovation.

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