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Scientists Close in on Origins of Psoriasis, Eczema
Date:7/20/2011

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- Psoriasis and eczema both cause red, scaly skin rashes, but the similarities between the two common, distressing conditions typically end there.

And now, examining patients suffering from both ailments (a very rare phenomenon), German scientists have teased out the opposing immune system responses that prompt skin flare-ups for both diseases.

They believe the findings could one day lead to more targeted, effective treatments.

The study, published in the July 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, evaluated three patients with both psoriasis and eczema and noted that the T-cells -- types of white blood cells that fight infection -- found in psoriasis lesions differed from those found in eczema lesions.

The findings suggest that these T-cells migrate to the skin in response to distinct environmental triggers, not that the skin cells themselves are abnormal in either inflammatory condition, the study authors said.

"It's just another way for doctors to understand immune pathways and where they go awry," explained Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved in the study. "It puts our understanding exponentially ahead and confuses us at the same time, because it's not supposed to happen [that patients can have both conditions]. The study definitely has value, and they're not making any claims or recommendations."

The most prevalent autoimmune disease in the United States, psoriasis affects up to 7.5 million Americans and is thought to arise from a combination of genetic and environmental triggers, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. Eczema, on the other hand, is thought to be an allergic response and often occurs simultaneously in those with asthma or food allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunolo
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