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Advanced Smart Functional Dressing for Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (RDEB) Wound Repair (Wang 1)

Project lead Dr Wenxin Wang
Organisation NUI Galway, National University of Ireland Galway, IRELAND
Project budget EUR 71,056.00
Start date / Duration 01. Sep 2010 / 24 months
Funder(s) / Co-Funder(s) DEBRA Austria, MSAP/EBEP Recommended
Research area Symptom prevention & relief

Project details

Short lay summary

This research program addressed the significant problem of wound healing in Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (RDEB). The goal of this proposed research was to develop an advanced dressing system for the treatment of RDEB, which function not only as a closure device and mechanical barrier but also as a local release device for delivery of a critical gene (type VII collagen gene) that is absent in people suffering from RDEB. The basis of this wound dressing will be miniature devices known as dendritic polymers which exhibit smart behaviour including thermo-responsive and photo-responsive properties. The dendritic polymers can also be used as carriers for the delivery of therapeutic genes. At room temperature, the dressing is in liquid form. However, upon being applied to wounds on the skin surface, the solution quickly forms a gel to cover and seal the wound site. This smart wound dressing system will contain copies of the type VII collagen gene that is missing in patients with RDEB. The multifunctional dendritic polymers with cell adhesion abilities will result in enhanced wound healing. The major outcome from this proposed project will be the development of a new generation of wound dressing in combination with a topical gene therapy that is capable of directing true skin regeneration. This “smart dressing” should also have direct applications for other forms of EB.

Strategic relevance

This research initiative aimed to combine a novel hydrogel, carrying living cells that secrete anti-inflammatory and growth factors with a transfection polymer designed for gene therapy. This approach has been chosen for multiple reasons, for example after conferring with clinicians, who are familiar with EB, we know that topically applied therapeutics are generally well accepted by patients and in the case of RDEB non-adhesive gentle treatments are the ideal. Hydrogels are easy to apply requiring minimal clinical expertise and can be used to cover an area without size restriction. Many advances have been made in this project in the synthesis of a suitable hydrogel which has been analysed and optimized as a therapeutic depot. Our novel hydrogel has been shown to carry and secrete over a couple of days proteins and stem cell trophic factors.

What did this project achieve?

The  team believes that an excellent platform has now been developed which has a range of potential application, but most importantly will provide a solid ground work for an effective therapy for RDEB.


dystrophic EB
Wang 1
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