Rare disease therapy will help everyone

24 August 2015

in 2015

Children with the rare genetic disease Epidermolysis Bullosa face a lifetime of pain due to constant blistering of their skin and other body surfaces.

Dr Zlatko Kopecki

Dr Zlatko Kopecki

The University of South Australia’s Zlatko Kopecki has developed a product to help these kids, and which could potentially treat all people with inflammatory skin conditions.

“We have identified a harmful protein that impairs skin healing in these so-called ‘butterfly children’, and created a new product to address this,” explains Zlatko.

“More broadly, the therapy we have developed may improve recovery from all kinds of wounds.”

Impaired skin healing due to diabetes, aging, burns and skin blistering costs the Australian federal government in excess of AU$2.6 billion per year.

Zlatko is moving forwards towards making a public health impact through his research.

“We have protected our therapeutic idea through patenting, and hope to run our first clinical trials in 2016,” says Zlatko.

“We aim to develop a marketable product within 5 years.”

Children with Epidermolysis Bullosa often die before the age of 2 due to skin infections, or from skin cancers around the age of 40 if they survive to adulthood. Around 1000 sufferers currently live in Australia.

Zlatko presented his research at Fresh Science South Australia 2015.

Fresh Science is a national program that helps early-career researchers find and share their stories of discovery. Over 30 early-career researchers nominated for Fresh Science SA, which was held at the South Australian Museum (training) and The Lion Hotel (public challenge event).

Fresh Science South Australia was supported by the The University of South Australia, The University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the South Australian Museum.

Contact: Zlatko Kopecki, University of South Australia, zlatko.kopecki@unisa.edu.au

Zlatko talks Butterfly Children at media training

Zlatko talks Butterfly Children at media training

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