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The body’s own natural defences could be harnessed in a potential therapy for a common skin condition, research suggests.
The discovery may help create new treatments for atopic eczema, which affects around one in five children and one in 20 adults in the UK.
Also called atopic dermatitis or AD, the condition causes distressing itchy lesions that can lead to broken skin with increased susceptibility to infection. It can have a severe impact on people’s lives, work and sleep.
The discovery follows recent studies that show having an intact natural skin barrier is important in preventing eczema. Now, researchers have found a way to use the body’s own defence system to repair tiny breaks in the skin’s natural barrier, which makes people more vulnerable to eczema.
The skin’s barrier can be impaired by genetic flaws, environmental factors or bacterial infections. People with eczema are much more likely to carry bacteria known as Staphylococcus aureus on their skins. In people with eczema, this bacteria can infect skin lesions and cause damage to the skin barrier.
“ This is a great chance to work with something that the body makes naturally to develop new therapies for atopic eczema, which affects so many people’s lives. ” — Dr Donald J. Davidson MRC Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Inflammation Research
“ Eczema is a disease of our times and is incredibly common. It is very exciting to think there could be a way of recruiting the body’s natural defence systems to help us tackle a condition that has such a huge impact on people. ” — Dr Richard Weller Senior Lecturer in Dermatology, University of Edinburgh