According to new research, scientists are now one step closer to creating a cure for ezcema, having discovered how a deficiency in the skin’s natural barrier can trigger the painful condition.
Eczema, which causes the skin to become dry, red, itchy and painful, affects many children and adults across the globe, with as many as one in five children affected.
Flare-ups can be treated with various creams and steroids, but there is currently no official cure for the disorder.
Several years ago, researchers at the University of Dundee found that the lack of a skin protein called filaggrin caused an inherited skin condition related to eczema, called ichthyosis vulgaris.
The new study has tried to understand why some people develop eczema on the hands, insides of the elbows, backs of the knees, and the face and scalp in children.
“We have shown for the first time that loss of the filaggrin protein alone is sufficient to alter key proteins and pathways involved in triggering eczema,” said Nick Reynolds, a dermatology professor at Newcastle University.
“This research reinforces the importance of filaggrin deficiency, leading to problems with the barrier function in the skin and predisposing someone to eczema.“
Professor Reynolds said that these findings, which were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, could help medical researchers find the causes of eczema and develop a cure for the condition.
“This latest research from Newcastle is crucial, as it expands on our knowledge of how filaggrin impacts on other proteins and pathways in the skin, which in turn trigger the disease.
“This type of research allows scientists to develop treatments that target the actual root cause of the disease, rather than just managing its symptoms. Given the level of suffering eczema causes, this is a pivotal piece of research.”