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Skin's Tight Junctions May Hold Secret to Offering Relief for Eczema With Exclusive Commentary from Joel Schlessinger, MD

Posted: December 20, 2010

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Barrier problems and, in particular, tight junction defects, are recognized as a common feature in many other inflammatory diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease and asthma, where the lining of the intestine and the airways is weakened, which is why Beck and her team decided to focus on the role of this barrier structure in eczema.

Eczema affects up to 17% of children and about 6% of adults in the United States — close to 15 million Americans. While there are varying severities of eczema, all have an itch that can make it difficult to focus on daily activities and to sleep. People with eczema are often counseled to minimize their exposure to allergens, but that is a difficult task given the hundreds of allergens people are exposed to each day.

Beck, who began the research while at Johns Hopkins University, plans to build on these findings by investigating the immunologic consequences of tight junction disruption in the skin and whether there is a relationship between barrier disruption and subjects' intractable itch. In addition, as part of a contract with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health, called the Atopic Dermatitis Research Network, Beck, in collaboration with Kathleen Barnes, PhD, at Johns Hopkins, will perform gene mapping of claudin-1 to try to identify mutations in patients with eczema.

University of Rochester Medical Center (2010, December 18). Major shift in understanding how eczema develops. ScienceDaily. Retrieved Dec 20, 2010, from­ /releases/2010/12/101217145920.htm

Exclusive commentary from Joel Schlessinger, MD

"This is an intriguing hypothesis and one that clearly fits well with the theory of barrier improvement and repair. Many of spa and medical esthetic treatments and products are aimed directly at repairing the skin barrier, but it appears that our work has to be not only effective for the uppermost, but deeper layers of the skin," says Joel Schelssinger, MD, a leading dermatologist based in Omaha, Nebraska. "With further research, it may become evident which treatments work the best at healing this disruption of cellular integrity. I look forward to finding out other disease types that operate on this level as well."