Gene Found for Eczema
- May Lead to Therapies for Cause of Dry Skin - Not just Treatments for
Up until now, eczema therapies involved treating the symptoms. This may
change soon due to research led by the University of Dundee in Scotland,
where they have discovered the gene which causes dry, scaly skin. The
dry skin can lead to eczema and asthma, according to researchers.
The gene produces a protein called filaggrin which helps keep the skin
protected by forming an outer barrier. It is hoped that this finding
will lead to a therapy of the underlying condition that causes dry skin
and eczema. Most current therapies involve ointments to treat dry skin
and anti-inflammatory drugs to treat eczema.
The filaggrin protein is usually found in the outermost layers of skin.
In people that are not affected by dry skin, this protein is abundant.
The protein also helps form a skin barrier keeping the water in, but in
absence allows the skin to dry out. When the skin dries out, it may
begin to flake off as well.
The barrier may help prevent disease. According to the researchers, “As
well as keeping water in, the skin barrier normally keeps foreign
substances out of the skin. In people with filaggrin mutations, foreign
substances can easily enter the skin and be seen by the immune system.”
The researchers speculate that this failure in the immune system could
lead to asthma.
There is a more common, less damaging skin condition. A milder form of
Ichthyosis Vulgaris causes dry flaky skin in about 50% of the
population. Only 1 in 500 people produce no filaggrin. These
individuals have a severe and persistent form of the disease, often
requiring specialist treatment.
According to researcher Professor Irwin McLean, of Dundee University's
human genetics department, the gene has been known for about for 20
years. Up until now the researchers have not been able to analyze it.
He said “We see this as the dawn of a new era in the understanding and
treatment of eczema and the type of asthma that goes with eczema as
The research, to be published in the journal Nature Genetics, was
undertaken with collaborators in Glasgow, Dublin, Seattle and
By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer
Keywords and misspellings: eczma exema ezcema