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Toini Pemmari: Salivary enzyme does not accelerate skin wound healing

Tampere University
LocationArvo Ylpön katu 34, Tampere
Kauppi Campus, Arvo building
Date19.8.2022 9.00–13.00
Entrance feeFree of charge
Toini Pemmari.
A recent doctoral dissertation shows that a salivary enzyme named carbonic anhydrase VI does not accelerate skin wound healing. MD Toini Pemmari set out to study skin wound healing and discovered also that a synthetic peptide named tCRK concentrates to skin wounds and normal skin. In addition, the dissertation provides experimental knowledge on the connection between an inflammatory mediator interleukin-13 and the development of skin cancer.

Little tears and wounds in the skin are very common, and often they heal without much concern. However, chronic wounds are a major problem in the health care system and new treatment options are much needed. This study aimed to new molecules expected to be effective based on the existing knowledge.

In the gastrointestinal tract carbonic anhydrase VI participates in regulation of acidity.

“We thought that carbonic anhydrase VI could affect the acidity in the wound, which is caused by the lack of oxygen, but this doesn’t seem to be the case,” says doctoral researcher Toini Pemmari.

“It is a pity, as it has been discovered earlier that some of the components of saliva accelerates skin wound healing.”

Although carbonic anhydrase VI turned out to be inefficient, Pemmari and her colleagues found another way to affect skin wounds. A synthetic peptide named tCRK homes to skin wounds and normal skin. When it penetrates from the blood vessels to the tissue, it uses the same mechanism as many viruses do including SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the Covid-19 disease. A scientific publication included in the dissertation also shows that tCKR can transport a protein called decorin to the skin tissue. The purpose of the further studies is to develop the combination of tCRK and decorin towards clinical use.

The research group continued to experiment on a skin cancer model. The model mimics mainly the squamous cell carcinoma and enables studying cancer development and cancer progression separately. The experimental model was used in the dissertation to study an inflammatory factor called interleukin-13.

The main result of the study shows that the lack of interleukin-13 function increases the risk of cancer development in the skin. Excess activity of interleukin-13 is related to some skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis.

"During last few years, new drugs preventing the function of interleukin-13 have come to the market. They are beneficial in for instance atopic dermatitis but, as the result of the study suggests, may increase cancer risk," Pemmari states. 

“We must remember that the results may not be directly transferable to humans. We shall see if the increase of the cancer risk is clinically relevant or not. It is the expertise of a clinician to determine when the benefits of a treatment overrule its harms. A single patient should never stop their taking their prescribed drugs without discussing with their doctor,” Pemmari underlines.

Toini Pemmari received her MD degree from University of Tampere 2016. Currently, she is as a clinical teacher of pharmacology in Tampere University and works a few hours a week as a physician.

The doctoral dissertation of MD Toini Pemmari in the field of medicine titled Locally Acting Factors in Mouse Models of Wound Healing and Papilloma Formation in Skin will be publicly examined in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology at Tampere University at noon on Friday 19 August 2022 at Arvo building (Arvo Ylpön katu 34). The Opponent will be associate professor Kazuki Sugahara from the Columbia University, the United States. The Custos will be professor Tero Järvinen from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology.

The event can also be viewed via a remote connection.

The dissertation is available online at

Photograph: Antti Pemmari