On the 13th January 2022, our CEO and Director of Research, Vice-President Graeme Souness and trustee Carly Fields were invited to visit the University of Birmingham Hospital and School of Dentistry. 

This was the first time our team has visited the University of Birmingham to observe the incredible DEBRA-funded projects into researching skin microbiome & neutrophils, genetic testing, gait analysis and wound healing. 
Tony Byrne, DEBRA UK CEO said: “We want to thank the team at the University of Birmingham and School of Dentistry for an incredibly informative and encouraging day. We look forward to seeing some life-changing results from these research projects, which will help our EB community with the daily pain and inflammation they face.” 

Graeme Souness, Vice-President of DEBRA said: “I am really pleased to have been able to visit University of Birmingham Hospital to see the great work being undertaken by the researchers at the hospital and dental school. It was great to see the DEBRA-funded projects being brought to life through the fascinating and encouraging work the Birmingham team is doing. We still have lots more to do, but this visit shows us at DEBRA that we are making the right steps towards finding life-changing treatments, and ultimately a cure for EB.” 

After being greeted by the University of Birmingham team, we visited the state-of-the-art laboratory facilities in the Healthcare Technologies Insititute. Here, our team was fascinated to learn more about an innovative oral spray the University of Birmingham team are developing to treat severely painful blisters, mouth ulceration and oral scarring in patients with epidermolysis bullosa (EB). You can find out more about this treatment spray here.

DEBRA visits University of Birmingham

We spent the rest of the day in the Dental School learning more about the other exciting research projects that DEBRA funds at the University of Birmingham and the strides of progress that researchers have made in these areas. 

These projects include... 

An investigation into the different bacteria and immune cells in EB skin to improve treatment options.  

This research project aims to understand whether particular immune cells, called neutrophils, work properly in Epidermolysis Bullosa. This has the potential to help with treatments to improve the body’s ability to get rid of the bad bacteria, allowing healthy bacteria to re-establish and maintain that important balance between “healthy” bacteria and our immune system. 

You can find out more about this research project here
Gait Analysis in EB simplex 

In epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS), recurrent blistering and thickening of the skin means there is tendency to walk on the sides of the feet to try to avoid sore areas.  This then leads to abnormal positioning of the ankles, knees and hips causing an imbalance in the body.  When people walk in this way, their hips move up and down causing the spine to “snake”, putting unnecessary stress on all the joints from the spine downwards. 
This research project aims to optimise support for feet to help correct posture and aid walking as much as possible. It is hoped that this research will also lead to development of a clinical protocol for gait analysis in EB, leading towards clinical practice guidelines and improved treatment and care for patients with EB that will allow them to maintain mobility throughout their lives. 

You can find out more about this research project here

DEBRA visits University of Birmingham

DEBRA Clinical Fellow Specialising in EB 

This is a multi-year project which investigates wound healing in EB with a focus on inflammation and scarring. Through accessing and making use of state-of-the-art facilities, the aim is to develop new therapies and methods of support for people living with EB. 

You can find out more about this project here