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Specialist Conflict Wound Research Centre Opens

The ground-breaking research centre has set a goal of achieving scar-free healing within a generation.

Britain's first specialist wound research centre has officially opened at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

The Scar Free Foundation Centre for Conflict Wound Research has set a goal of achieving scar-free healing within a generation.

It will treat injured military personnel as well as civilians who have suffered injuries in incidents such as traffic accidents and terrorist attacks.

Dave Henson was serving with the Royal Engineers when he lost both legs after stepping on a hidden IED in Helmand in February 2010.

Now a medal-winning Paralympian, he is also a founder member of the Casevac Club, a group of the most severely wounded servicemen and women from Iraq and Afghanistan, who are making themselves available for research at the centre.

"The fact that we have survived means that we've got within our bodies, and within our injuries, a wealth of knowledge that's there to be exploited.

"It's a real partnership, whereby people can learn from our own experiences of surviving the battlefield and we can gain by being provided with the most cutting-edge healthcare research."

Anon troops
More than 800 personnel were seriously injured in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Picture: PA).

There were 838 seriously injured battlefield casualties officially recorded between 2001 and 2014 during Operation Telic in Iraq and Operation Herrick in Afghanistan.

More than 6,000 British veterans received compensation between April 2005 and March 2017 due to injury.

The new centre will bring together scientists and clinicians to investigate the body’s healing process following trauma such as chemical, burn and bomb injury.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham exterior
The wound research centre will be based at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Picture: Katja Ogrin/EMPICS Entertainment).

Nearly 500 patients, many of them injured veterans, will take part in research over the next three years, and the expert team will spearhead the development of new psychological, clinical and biological treatments.

These include the first clinical trial of a battle-ready, transportable dressing, which can be used on the battlefield to help the skin heal with reduced scarring.

It could also be used at the scene of a road traffic accident.

It will also develop improved laser treatment to correct historic scarring amongst veterans and civilians.

In addition, there will be a pilot of tailored psychological treatments to help seriously injured Armed Forces personnel cope with life with an altered, scarred appearance. This will involve veterans from recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, recruited through the CASEVAC Club.

Brendan Eley, Chief Executive of the Scar Free Foundation, said: “The physical and emotional effects of scarring are serious and often life-changing.

"Our aim is to deliver scar-free healing within a generation by establishing a pioneering programme of medical research in the UK."

He added:

"The launch of this centre is an important part of achieving our goal, and by working with world leading experts, scientists, and researchers, we are discovering revolutionary new treatments that will transform the lives of millions worldwide." 

Research undertaken at The Scar Free Foundation centre will cost £4.8 million over three years.