Patient Version

What’s it all about?

It is well understood by doctors that major trauma has a major impact on the endocrine system, which can have a big impact on how patients recover. The endocrine system is a system of glands which secrete different chemicals to regulate the body’s activities. One particular chemical secreted by these glands is known as DHEA, which helps with

  • muscle re-growth
  • burns recovery
  • preventing or fighting infection

Our researchers will look at whether DHEA levels are particularly affected by serious trauma and whether giving patients extra DHEA would help them recover more quickly from their injuries.

Current research studies underway

The first research project in this theme was the SIRS study. Patient recruitment for this study has now finished, and our researchers are analysing the data gather.

Can I get involved?

QEHB Charity raises funds for research at the hospital and will ensure your donation goes to the project you want to support. To donate to this important research into life-threatening injuries, please visit the website.

How will this research help people?

Any patient who suffers a major trauma needs all the help they can get to survive and then recover from their injuries. DHEA is a relatively cheap chemical to produce and if our researchers can show that giving it to patients would help their recovery, then it could help some of the 20,000 people who suffer major trauma in Britain every year. DHEA can be given orally and has been used extensively in studies in healthy adults and patients with no significant side effects.

What is DHEA?

DHEA stands for dehydroepiandrosterone and is produced by the adrenal glands, which are near your kidneys, as well as by the brain, testes and ovaries. It is involved in a wide range of processes in the human body, so has been researched as a treatment for many different medical problems, including infertility and arthritis, but its effectiveness is not yet widely agreed upon.

How will they do the research?

Researchers will use blood samples taken from patients when they are admitted to QEHB for surgery. They will then compare these initial samples with samples taken at increasing time periods until six months after surgery. They will look for a range of complex indicators, including the way other parts of the blood react, to tell them how or if DHEA is playing an important role.

What will happen then?

If the researchers confirm that DHEA levels are reduced in burns and blast victims, they will test the effects of correcting that deficiency by giving patients DHEA.