This site is intended for health professionals only

Study to fight child skin disease

A new treatment which could help save the lives of children affected by a deadly skin disorder is to be tested as part of a £3m study.

Scientists at Dundee University hope trials on genetically-altered skin could help sufferers of the rare genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa (EB).

There is currently no cure for the disease, which causes skin to weep, crack and blister.

In severe cases it can be agonising and patients have to wear protective suits or wrap themselves in bandages.

The university team will carry out gene therapy on skin samples taken from patients.

It is hoped this will provide a breakthrough for the treatment of the disease, which affects 5,000 people in the UK.

The trials are due to begin at the city's Ninewells Hospital in the next 18 months.

Professor Irene Leigh, who is leading the research, said a particular kind of tissue engineering called ex-vivo gene therapy will be used.

Funding for the two-year project, which is one of a range of new treatments, has been provided by EB medical research charity DebRA Scotland.

Its director, Robin Hood, whose 18-year-old daughter Alex has a severe form of EB, said: "I do not want this condition to kill my daughter. This study fills me with enthusiasm that a cure will be found."

DebRA

Copyright © PA Business 2007