A deficiency in the skin’s barrier could be the key to triggering eczema, researchers from Newcastle University and scientists from global dermatological pharmaceutical company Stiefel GSK have discovered.
The researchers identified how a skin barrier protein called filaggrin impacts other proteins and pathways in the skin, and how a lack of it can cause the development of eczema.
Using a human model system, the researchers modified the epidermis using molecular techniques to become filaggrindeficient, directly mimicking the situation observed in patients with atopic eczema.
Nick Reynolds, lead investigator and Professor of Dermatology at Newcastle University, said: “We have shown for the first time that loss of the filaggrin protein alone is sufficient to alter key proteins and pathways involved in triggering eczema.
The findings, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), have also l ed to the researchers identifying potential targets for future drug development, which could treat the underlying cause of eczema rather than the symptoms.
Nina Goad, from the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “This type of research allows scientists to develop treatments that target the root cause of the disease. Given the level of suffering eczema causes, this is a pivotal piece of research.”