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Project details

Short lay summary

EB wound management is the life-long process relying heavily on application of numerous wound dressings that need regular and painful changes for patients with severe subtypes. These dressings primarily act as a surface covering to prevent infection and do not actively promote wound repair. EB patients have high bacterial colonization rates compared to normal population and sepsis is a common cause of death especially in neonates. The success of current treatments is limited, and high skin cytotoxicity is a major side effect with silver dressings. This project aims to develop new safe and effective wound dressings for treatment of infected blistered wounds and could lead to significant impact on lives of children and adults living with EB.  

Scientific summary

Concern about antimicrobial resistance has led to a resurgence of interest in new biofilm-disrupting technologies however none are yet available or validated for safe use in EB patients. Alarmingly, 56% of EB wounds contain mupirocin-resistant S. aureus bacteria, highlighting the need for development of novel approaches to combat infection in EB. One clinical challenge of current antimicrobial silver (Ag) dressings is cytotoxicity. High serum silver levels have been documented in EB patients who use silver dressings, and their prolonged use over large surface wounds is strongly discouraged. To date none of the currently available dressings have been able to prevent infection, stimulate healing, and reduce scaring in EB. Our research addresses the clinical challenge of Ag-dressing toxicity to deliver Ag ions to wounds using nanotechnology approaches which can coat the dressings with Ag nanoparticles (AgNP) and enable the same antibacterial efficacy with a fraction of Ag applied. We have developed ultrasmall lipid encapsulated AgNPs ensuring Ag release only in the presence of bacteria. These lipid encapsulated AgNPs are immobilized onto a dressing to develop a new wound care strategy for EB patients. We are using nanotechnology and surface coating chemistry to create safe antibacterial “smart” Ag-dressings that allow slow and sustained release of silver ions only in presence of bacteria hence facilitating protection for extended period of time and “readiness” in case infection reoccurs during blister healing.   

Strategic relevance

This project will provide preliminary proof of concept data and validation of technology in preclinical animal models of wound infection. The outcomes will be significant in “de-risking the technology” and progressing the clinical development and application in future human clinical trials with EB patients.



wound infection
wound healing
silver Dressings
University of South Australia
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