Searching for New Biomarkers of Atopic Dermatitis
The development of new objective biomarkers to allow the effectiveness and possible adverse effects of new treatments to be monitored.
We showed that the biophotonics tool optical coherence tomography (OCT) has great potential to provide biomarkers of skin structure that classify various grades of eczema and also quantify the anti-inflammatory response of corticosteroid and calcineurin-inhibitor creams.
Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a skin disease that can have a hugely negative effect, both physically and emotionally, on sufferers and carers. Trying to sleep during a severe flare has been likened to trying to fall asleep after wearing a wet-suit stuffed with stinging nettles and attempted suicide amongst child sufferers is not uncommon in severe cases.
Flaring skin displays open, oozing sores which easily become infected. The disease has become much more common since the 1940’s, suggesting a strong role for changes in our working and living environment. Despite these issues, eczema has been neglected until recently and there have been few new treatments since corticosteroids were introduced in the 1950’s. However, the disease is now starting to attract greatly increased interest from major pharmaceuticals manufacturers, who require new objective biomarkers to be developed to allow the effectiveness and possible adverse effects of these new treatments to be monitored.
In a previous collaboration between EEE Biophotonics and the department of Infection and Immunity, we showed that the biophotonics tool optical coherence tomography (OCT) has great potential to provide biomarkers of skin structure that classify various grades of eczema and also quantify the anti-inflammatory response of corticosteroid and calcineurininhibitor creams. OCT also reveals how corticosteroid creams (the most commonly prescribed treatment for eczema flares) causes skin atrophy i.e. abnormal “thinning” of the skin as a worrying treatment side-effect.
These results have led to three funded clinical trials to further evaluate OCT imaging in atopic dermatitis treatment. Recently the EEE biophotonics group was also awarded a £1M EPSRC Healthcare Impact Partnership (HIPS) grant to apply more sophisticated OCT variants into this clinical area.
- Professor Stephen Matcher
- Professor Mike Cork
- Dr Simon Danby
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