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A novel method to isolate cells from discarded wound dressings for research and genetic diagnosis

New scientific article from the EB House Austria

Any type of EB research and genetic diagnosis requires living cells and DNA from the affected person. Common methods used for cell isolation like blood draws and skin biopsies are often painful and can be very distressing for EB patients.
EB House scientists and colleagues from Chile and the US recently developed a new non-invasive method for cell isolation from discarded wound bandages in the course of a regular dressing change. This new pain-reduced and cost-effective method of living cell isolation was recently published in the journal Scientific Research. If, in a further step, the researchers succeed in growing the isolated skin cells in petri dishes, this procedure could replace the unpopular punch biopsy, and thus accelerate research and diagnosis in EB.

One of the biggest limitations in life for patients with severe forms of EB such as RDEB and JEB are the large wounded skin areas that are very painful and heal with severe scarring or do not heal and become chronic. It is known that areas of the body with chronic wounds are likely to develop life-threatening skin cancer. In the past years, EB House researchers and collaborators made important advances in deciphering the key factors that link EB-related wounds to the development of cancer.
In order to determine and compare the composition of cells present in acute versus chronic wounds, living cells must be isolated from these skin areas. Using the newly developed method described above, the researchers succeeded in isolating viable immune and skin cells from removed wound bandages of 51 patients with RDEB and JEB. Subsequent analysis revealed an increased number of certain types of immune cells, persistent in longstanding wounds, compared to acute wounds of EB and non-EB patients. They further discovered that wounds from RDEB patients show a lower variety of microorganisms than intact skin, a phenomenon that has been proven to contribute to delayed wound healing.

These results provide an indication to distinguish between acute and chronic wounds. The long-term goal is to improve this method in order to predict the potential of a wound to become chronic, and thus to identify therapeutic targets for wound healing treatments.

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