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New risk variant for atopic dermatitis identified
Date:4/6/2009

Scientists of the Max Delbrck Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch and Charit University Medical School, Berlin, Germany, in collaboration with researchers from the Klinikum rechts der Isar of Technical University Munich and Christian Albrecht University, Kiel, have identified a gene variant on chromosome 11 that is associated with an increased risk of atopic dermatitis. In a large genome-wide association study the researchers scanned the genomes of more than 9600 participants from Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. "Our findings cast new light on the pathogenesis of the disease," said Professor Young-Ae Lee (Charit / MDC). The pediatrician-researcher and her collaborators hope the study will lead to a new approach to targeted therapy for this chronic skin disorder. (Nature Genetics doi: 10.1038/ng.347)*.

More and more people suffer from atopic dermatitis, which is also known as atopic or infantile eczema. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic (long-lasting) inflammatory skin disease that typically affects the large flexures such as the bend of the elbows or the back of the knees. Patients suffer from recurrent flares of intense itching, dryness and redness of the skin, with weeping of clear fluid in the acute stage, and skin thickening (lichenification) in the chronic stage. Along with hay fever and asthma, atopic dermatitis is one of the most common allergic disorders. In the industrialized countries about 15 percent of young children are affected.

Atopic dermatitis is typically the first clinical manifestation of allergic disease. In most cases atopic dermatitis appears within the first few years of life. For the majority of affected children this marks the beginning of an "allergic career", which in later years evolves into hay fever or asthma. Just what triggers the outbreak of atopic dermatitis is not yet fully understood. However, epidemiological studies indicate that the genetic contribution is substantial.

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Contact: Barbara Bachtler
bachtler@mdc-berlin.de
49-309-406-3896
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

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