Sheffield Dermatology Research to Investigate New Imaging Technologies for Non-Invasive Monitoring of Treatment Effects

Dr Simon Danby, Professor Stephen Matcher and Professor Michael J Cork have been awarded a £420,000 grant from Leo Pharma to undertake the "Skin Pathology assessment with Optical Technologies (SPOT)” clinical study.

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This fundamental research project is the first in a series of studies investigating new imaging technologies for the non-invasive monitoring of treatment effects. It is hoped that this will aid the development of new treatments and enable a personalised approach to medicine.

The severity of atopic dermatitis/eczema (AD) is currently determined based upon visual scoring of the signs of AD by a suitably trained clinician, a process which is subjective and relatively insensitive. Moreover, these clinical assessments are limited to only those skin changes visible to the naked eye. Recent evidence demonstrates that even normal appearing skin in AD patients can exhibit signs of inflammation beneath the surface, and that this ‘sub-clinical’ inflammation increases the propensity for flares/relapses. In order to fully investigate the effects of new treatments and treatment regimens on the long-term control of AD it is therefore important to assess both clinical and sub-clinical changes in a sensitive and objective manner. Current techniques for assessing the effects of treatments on sub-clinical inflammation rely on invasive techniques such as biopsy and blood sample collection, limiting their use in longitudinal or large clinical studies. The aim of this project is to identify and validate novel alternative methods of quantifying clinical and sub-clinical skin changes objectively and non-invasively by drawing upon the latest advances in skin imaging and characterisation technology.

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