‘Huge leap’ in understanding of eczema could lead to revolutionary new treatments for various inflammatory conditions.
Scientists have found that the blood vessel cells and immune cells in the skin of people with these diseases work together in a way that summons far too many inflammatory white blood cells, causing inflammation. While this intense white cell recruitment process helps skin develop in the embryo, it normally stops quite quickly, when its no longer useful. But not in the case of people with inflammatory skin disease, when the process carries on, the research finds.
“This is a huge leap in our understanding of inflammatory skin disease and offers new routes for finding treatments,” said Professor Muzlifah Haniffa (pictured) of Newcastle University. “Specific molecular signals are sent by healthy developing skin to summon immune cells and form a protective layer. We were amazed to see that eczema and psoriasis skin cells were sending the same molecular signals, which could overactive immune cells and cause the disease. This has never been seen before,” she said.
By providing a completely new understanding of inflammatory disease, the findings also open up new avenues to develop treatments for other inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, she said.
The first of the new treatments for eczema and psoriasis could potentially become available in as little as five years
The research also involved scientists from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and King’s College London and is published in the journal Science. The findings emerged as part of a global Human Cell Atlas effort to map every cell type in the human body. Here, the scientists produced a highly detailed map of the skin that could provide a template for regenerative medicine, helping researchers grow skin in the laboratory more effectively.
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