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Vitamin D shows wound-healing properties in EB skin cells

New scientific publication from the Piñon/Gruber Working Group

Because of the fragile nature of their skin, patients with recessive dystrophic EB (RDEB) often suffer from large, non-healing wounds that become infected with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Preventing such infections is of utmost importance as they can contribute to poor wound healing and the development of life-threatening skin tumors.

Researchers from the EB House have therefore set themselves the goal of developing safe treatment options for chronic RDEB wounds, focusing on the hormone vitamin D3 (VD3) because of its known wound healing and anti-neoplastic properties. One way by which VD3 aids effective wound healing is by increasing skin production of antimicrobial peptides (AMP), which form part of the body's first-line defense against microorganisms. In this regard, the scientists found that a subset of RDEB skin cells produce lower levels of the AMP cathelicidin.

In their recent study published in the journal "Nature Scientific Reports", the team led by EB House researchers demonstrated that administration of VD3 can increase cathelicidin production in some RDEB skin cells, thereby improving defense against certain microbes in vitro. Additionally, a supporting effect on wound healing was observed in cell culture experiments. Because RDEB chronic wounds are particularly prone to malignant transformation, the researchers also tested the impact of VD3 on RDEB tumor cells. Their results showed that the substance inhibited the growth of established tumor cells, underlining the safety of this therapeutic approach. Based on these data, an initial observational study was performed on a single DEB patient with a long-standing open wound colonized by harmful bacteria. Daily application of a low-dose VD3 ointment resulted in complete closure of the wound within 2 weeks, accompanied by a reduction in itch and pain, as well as resolution of the bacterial infection at the treated site.

These results paved the way for the launch of a clinical trial (CALCIDEB2016) which investigates the effect of a low-dose VD3 ointment on wound healing and antimicrobial defense in DEB patients.

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