The CRUK Scotland Institute has launched a new long-term research partnership with DEBRA UK, a national charity and patient support organisation for people living with or directly affected by the rare genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa (EB). 

This 5-year partnership will focus on the devlopment of pre-clinical cancer models that will help increase understanding around the progression of skin cancer in patients living with recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB).

RDEB patients suffer from severe skin fragility, persistent skin blistering and wounding, and have a higher risk of developing early-onset, aggressive skin cancers. Through this new research partnership, DEBRA UK hopes to get a better understanding of the genetic and biological events that drive the formation of cancerous cells in patients with RDEB, and an understanding of how these cells interact with depleted skin.

With improved understanding of the processes that take place during the formulation of cancerous cells it is hoped that this could support the identification of potential drug treatments, including repurposed drugs, to target these processes, prior to patient clinical testing.

The CRUK Scotland Institute Research Leader on this project will be Prof Gareth Inman, who commented:

“We are hugely excited about this new cancer modelling project funded by DEBRA UK. This is the first partnership we have entered for a rare condition such as EB. It is a difficult problem that needs a different approach but by building the correct models I am confident that we can create a robust platform for testing repurposed drug treatments that could help target the processes that lead to the development of skin cancer in patients with RDEB”.

 Commenting on this new partnership, DEBRA UK Director of Research, Dr Sagair Hussain said:

“We are delighted to have partnered with such an esteemed organisation as the CRUK Scotland Institute, who have an enviable record in translational cancer science. Skin cancer can be devastating for people living with RDEB but if we can get a better understanding of how it develops and interacts with the skin, we then stand a better chance of identifying drug treatments that could help slow or stop its progression, which could be life changing. I look forward to working with Professor Gareth Inman and the team in Glasgow to make a difference for people living with the pain of RDEB”.