Gates Institute is an international leader in the fight to solve Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a severely debilitating group of inherited skin diseases that result in severe blistering and scarring and affect about half a million people around the world. Gates Institute researchers, including Associate Director Dennis Roop, PhD, help lead the Epidermolysis Bullosa iPS Cell Consortium, which includes research teams from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Columbia University Medical Center.
EB is characterized by chronic skin wounds similar in property to thermal burns, and indistinguishable from burns induced by chemical agents such as mustard gas. Many children afflicted with recessive dystrophic EB, one of the most painful and disfiguring forms of the condition, do not survive their teens after lives compromised by chronic, debilitating pain.
The consortium is funded by the U.S.-based EB Research Partnership, EB Medical Research Foundation, and the Cure EB charity from Great Britain. The consortium has been awarded $3.8 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to move discoveries in stem cell-created skin grafts into the manufacturing stage, bringing further hope to victims of debilitating inherited skin diseases.
Roop and a Gates Institute team have also received multiple rounds of competitive grant funding from the National Institutes of Health 21st Century Cures Act to explore alternative stem cell therapies for the diseases. One promising alternative currently being investigated by Gates researchers involves a form of “spray-on skin” that could eventually prove an effective and efficient alternative to hard-to-grow skin graft techniques.