December 2023

Group of six people in lab coats looking at the camera

Valinotto group

We’re delighted to announce that DEBRA UK received close to thirty applications for epidermolysis bullosa (EB) research funding in 2023 as a result of our first open call to researchers in the UK and around the world. Through our rigorous awards process, we have awarded funding to seven exciting new projects (up to £200,000 each) that will run for 2-3 years, five small grants (up to £15,000 each) to fund single-year projects, and our first two non-clinical PhD students (up to £140,000 each). These four-year PhD studentships will bring new researchers into the field of EB.

Three of the new projects address all types of EB. One looks at how ‘biofilms’ on EB wounds slow down healing and another at simplifying and speeding up genetic testing and EB diagnosis. The third project is to research ways to support the mental health of parents caring for someone with EB. 

Six people smiling at the camera

Mencía group

EB simplex (EBS), the most common of the four main types of EB, is the focus for our first clinical trial on the drug apremilast (Otezla) in France, a project to match EBS genetics and symptoms in Argentina, and the identification of drugs that could be repurposed to treat EBS blistering in London. 

Group of 9 people looking at the camera

Chiaverini group

Our newly funded researchers are working on protein therapy for junctional EB (JEB) and gene therapy for dystrophic EB (DEB), as well as investigating the root causes of recessive DEB (RDEB) cancer and whether statins could be repurposed to treat it. 

Our two PhD students will be studying how the immune system contributes to EB blistering, itching, pain and scarring, specifically in JEB, but with potential application in all other EB types. 

Group of six people looking at the camera

Connelly group

This enormous addition to our research portfolio would not have been possible without our amazing donors and fundraisers, those who leave legacies, and the contributions from all our supporters. We have also partnered with DEBRA groups in Ireland and France and other research charities to maximise our impact. 

We thank the researchers and DEBRA UK members who provided reviews to help us to decide which research to fund and the scientific advisory panel  whose expertise guides our decisions. Thanks to you all, we can continue to support researchers to understand EB, improve treatments and positively impact the futures of every family living with EB. 

Meet our researchers in their own words by reading their blog articles, find out more about all the research we’re funding and, if you’re a researcher, consider applying for our 2024 funding now!