A gene linked to eczema has been identified by an international team of scientists and the finding may help in the development of new treatments for the common skin condition.
The gene produces a protein called filaggrain, which helps the skin form a protective outer barrier. Reduction or absence of the protein, normally abundant in the outermost layers of skin, results in dry and flaky skin. This study found that about 10% of Europeans carry a mutation that switches off this gene.
"It was a really tough project, but because we had experience in this type of gene, we managed to crack it where others had failed," Professor Irwin McLean of the University of Dundee in Scotland, told BBC News. "We see this as the dawn of a new era in the understanding and treatment of eczema and the type of asthma that goes with eczema as well."
The findings appear in the journal Nature Genetics.
HealthDay News, March 21, 2006