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General Health Channel
Reported January 31, 2013

Itching for Eczema Help!

 

(Ivanhoe Newswire) – According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, eczema affects 10 to 20 percent of children in the United States and direct health-care costs exceed $3 billion.  The increasing incidence of allergic skin diseases has pushed researchers to find better ways to control these immune system-bases disorders.  
 
Up to 50 percent of children with eczema, or atopic dermatitis, will develop other allergic diseases like asthma.
Associate professor of microbiology David Artis, PhD, and clinical instructor of dermatology Brian Kim, MD, from the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, identified a previously unknown role for a recently identified immune cell population in the progression of atopic dermatitis.  
 
They found an accumulation of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) in the active lesions of patients with atopic dermatitis.  In a mouse model, they showed that mice ILCs contribute to disease progression.  Their studies suggest innate lymphoid cells may be a new therapeutic target.
 
"Like foot soldiers protecting the skin barrier from onslaught, innate lymphoid cells are present in healthy skin and we would predict that these cells play a role in maintaining normal tissue function and perhaps in protecting against microbes on this barrier. However, in chronic inflammatory diseases like atopic dermatitis, unchecked innate lymphoid cell responses can promote inflammation,” Dr. David Artis was quoted as saying.
 
"A potential consequence of our more hygienic environment is that immune cells may be left somewhat redundant and so contribute to the increasing incidence of allergic diseases like eczema.  An unexpected finding of the current study is that innate lymphoid cells in the skin appear to be activated and regulated by different pathways. These findings suggest that tissue-specific local signals may regulate their function. This finding may also offer therapeutic potential to selectively target innate lymphoid cells in certain tissues, especially for limiting disease severity,” Dr. Brain Kim was quoted as saying.
 
For now the popular treatment for atopic dermatitis is topical steroids.  Unlike other inflammatory diseases like arthritis that can be treated with biologic-bases therapies, there are none approved for treating atopic dermatitis.  
 
"Our findings give us hope that new biologic therapies may be designed to treat atopic dermatitis in the future," Dr. Artis said.
 
SOURCE:  Science Translational Medicine, January 2013
 

 

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