Psoriasis in children

Grantee: Professor Lone Skov, Department of Dermato-Allergology, Gentofte Hospital, Denmark

Amount: DKK 4,500,000

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition with a prevalence of 2-3% in northern Europe. While considerable research exists on adults with psoriasis, there is little research on the condition in children. Identifying key factors associated with psoriasis in childhood may lead to more effective control and possibly even prevention of the condition.

The study aims to determine environmental and genetic risk factors relating to the development of psoriasis in children, the nature of stress related to the child and family, and quality of life. The project also aims to determine the link with risk factors of co-morbidity and the effect of early intensive treatment.

The study is led by Professor Lone Skov, Department of Dermato-Allergology, Gentofte Hospital, Denmark. The team will explore the following hypotheses:

  • Risk factors for early onset of psoriasis can be predicted
  • Early debut of psoriasis has a significant impact on quality of life and individual and family-related stress
  • Early intensive treatment leads to remission
  • There is already an increased risk of co-morbidity in children with psoriasis
  • Age at debut, risk factors and co-morbidity are related
    to the genetic risk.

The study offers a unique possibility to access data from children with psoriasis shortly after diagnosis, which in turn can pave the way for new and improved tools for assessing the impact of the condition on quality of life in a well-controlled study design.

The LEO Foundation Award 2013 – Silver Award

Grantee: Dr. Muzlifah Haniffa

Amount: DKK 500,000

Presented to Muzlifah Haniffa, Wellcome Trust Clinical Intermediate Fellow in Dermatology at the Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, UK.

Dr. Haniffa’s research focuses on dendritic cells; a type of white blood cells also present in the skin that are important in regulating immune responses against microorganisms, cancer and tolerance to self-proteins. Her research has the potential to lead to enhanced vaccination strategies against cancer, such as melanoma, and infections.

The LEO Foundation Award 2013 – Gold Award

Grantee: Dr. Onur Boyman

Amount: DKK 1,000,000

Presented to Onur Boyman, Professor, Dr. med., Senior Consultant Physician and Head of Laboratory at the Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Zurich.

Professor Boyman’s research focuses on the function of T cell subsets and different cytokines in the pathogenesis of psoriasis and other immune-mediated diseases and the treatment of melanoma. His research shows great promise both as a potential treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases and as a potential cancer therapy.

Identification and Characterization of Key Itch Mediators and Receptors in Human Pruitus

Grantee: Professor Martin Steinhoff, University of California San Francisco, CA, USA

Amount: USD 388,225

Itch is probably the most common symptom in dermatology and it is associated with a significant impact on the patient’s life.

A team led by Professor Martin Steinhoff, University of California San Francisco, has set out to develop novel targeted therapies for chronic itch in humans.

Besides the lesional and non-lesional as compared to healthy skin, the project team will also identify critical itch mediators and/or receptors that are expressed (and activated) in human dorsal root ganglion (DRG) and spinal cord tissue. To address this, mediators will be identified as well as receptors associated with human itch, and thereby the team will be able to define “biomarkers” for the different pruritic human diseases.

The project will be the first-of-a-kind study to analyse the expression and distribution of key itch mediators and receptors in human skin, human DRG and human spinal cord, and will therefore provide a significant basis for future translational research that targets these mediators/receptors in the different subtypes of itch.

Moreover, it is the first time that it will be tested whether several new itch pathways that have been described in murine skin models are relevant, i.e. can be translated, in human disease state.

Care for chronic skin diseases with a patient-centric approach

Grantee: Professor Lieve Brochez, University of Ghent, Belgium

Amount: EUR 330,000

Skin cancer is currently the most frequent type of cancer. At present, life-time risk is estimated at one in six and, with an ageing population, this is expected to increase even more. It is assumed that early detection allows better cure rates and more cost-effective treatment, and skin cancer thus seems suitable for screening initiatives. However, questions remain about the cost–benefit ratio.

This study is led by Professor Lieve Brochez of the University of Ghent, Belgium. It aims to calculate the actual cost of skin cancer in Belgium, the expected cost with an ageing population and how much early detection of skin cancer could affect these costs.

The team will use the results to develop an internationally applicable health-economic model. The model will allow other European countries to use local data, enabling data to be compared across Europe.

Secondly, the study will evaluate a new skin cancer screening approach to compare the yield of this type of screening to the yield of systematic screening in an asymptomatic population within a well-defined population.

Quality of life will be assessed for all screened persons with skin cancer and/or actinic keratosis in order to generate patient-centric data to evaluate the burden of skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Screening Education Study

Grantee: Professor Dr Eckhard W. Breitbart & Dr Rüdiger Greinert from the Association of Dermatological Prevention, Hamburg, and the Centre of Dermatology, Buxtehude, Germany

Amount: EUR 822,880

The Skin Cancer Screening Education Study (SCSES) is an interventional study in Canada to evaluate training of primary-care physicians in skin cancer screening (SCS) with regard to screening outcomes for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.

The study, led by Professor Dr Eckhard W. Breitbart and Dr Rüdiger Greinert from the Association of Dermatological Prevention, Hamburg, and the Centre of Dermatology, Buxtehude, both in Germany, will compare screening outcomes for an intervention region with SCS training to screening outcomes for a control region with no training.

The SCS training is based on the German SCS training, which forms part of the German skin cancer screening programme. The results of the SCREEN project, which was led by Dr Breitbart, provide the strongest scientific evidence to date that population-based skin cancer screening can be effective. This new study will evaluate clinical and epidemiological screening outcomes as well as educational outcomes. Data on potential risks associated with skin cancer screening will also be obtained.

Study results will be published in international publications and presented to the scientific community, public health experts and policymakers at European and international conferences, at roundtables of the European Parliament and national parliaments, and in health committees in the study countries, which include Canada.

Defining the skin and blood biomarkers of pediatric atopic dermatitis

Grantee: Dr. Emma Guttman, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Director Laboratory for Inflammatory Skin Diseases, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA

Amount: USD 1,046,400

Despite considerable impact on quality of life, atopic dermatitis, or eczema, has not been studied extensively in children although as many as one in five experience the condition. Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is a chronic skin condition, characterised by itching and inflammation, and frequently occurs in people who have other allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.

Dr. Guttman has set out to define the skin and blood biomarkers of atopic dermatitis in children. She and her team will investigate how skin biomarkers compare to disease activity, epidermal barrier function and known biomarkers in adults with atopic dermatitis. They will also investigate whether blood biomarkers could offer a less invasive way to monitor skin changes than a skin biopsy, which can be difficult to perform in children.

With better knowledge of what causes atopic dermatitis in children, the researchers hope to develop more targeted therapies for the disorder as well as for other atopic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever. Together, these three disorders form an “atopic triad”.

Publications:

Early pediatric atopic dermatitis shows only a cutaneous lymphocyte antigen (CLA)+ TH2/TH1 cell imbalance, whereas adults acquire CLA+ TH22/TC22 cell subsets

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2015 Oct; 136(4): 941–951.e3.

Early-Onset Pediatric Atopic Dermatitis Is TH2 but Also TH17 Polarized in Skin

J Allergy Clin Immunol 138 (6), 1639-1651. 2016 Sep 23.

Alterations in B-cell subsets in pediatric patients with early atopic dermatitis

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Dec 10 pii: S0091-6749(16)31452-X

Accelerated T-cell activation and differentiation of polar subsets characterizes early atopic dermatitis development

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016 Nov;138(5):1473-1477.e5

An IL-17-dominant immune profile is shared across the major orphan forms of ichthyosis.

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Jan;139(1):152-165

The LEO Foundation Award 2012 – Silver Award

Grantee: Dr. Andrea Chiricozzi

Amount: DKK 500,000

Presented to skin immunology specialist Dr. Andrea Chiricozzi at the Department of Dermatology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy.

Chiricozzi’s research focuses on chronic skin inflammation and the pathogenic circuits underlying the formation of skin lesions, particularly in regard to psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. The award will support Chiricozzi’s on-going research into the pathogenic mechanisms in skin disorders and novel therapeutic strategies.

The LEO Foundation Award 2012 – Gold Award

Grantee: David Schrama

Amount: DKK 1,000,000

Presented to Assistant Professor David Schrama at the Dermatology Department at Graz Medical University, Austria.

Schrama’s research focuses on melanoma biology. His research team currently analyses the impact of genetic diversity among patients and tumours on prognosis and clinical outcome of therapies. In recent years, Schrama’s scientific work has focused on unravelling the biology of another skin cancer; the polyomavirus associated merkel cell carcinoma.

Depletion, UV Exposure and Relation between Ozone and Skin Cancer

Grantee: Dr. Harry Slaper, Laboratory for Radiation Research, RIVM, Holland

Amount: DKK 200,000

Dr. Harry Slaper, Laboratory for Radiation Research, RIVM, Holland, has developed a unique model, the AMOUR 2.0, for relating ozone depletion scenarios and UV to changes in skin cancer incidence (melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)). This model has been used since 2008 as a reference for other researchers in Europe.

The model, however, does not factor in age. Apart from cumulated UV Radiation, age is the major risk factor for the development of Non Melanoma Skin Cancer (NMSC), and an ageing population will contribute to the increasing incidence of NMSCs.

The LEO Foundation has funded a development of the model to also incorporate the effects of population aging in Europe in order to obtain a more precise picture of the projected incidence of NMSC in Europe.

Based on the Dutch Cancer registry and the enhanced model, then, Dr. Slaper has estimated age and gender specific incidence rates, incorporated them into the model as well as UN Population forecasts to forecast the incidence of NMSC in Europe and the contribution of both cumulated UV radiation and age and gender.

The results are expected to play a key role in raising awareness among decision makers in the health care sector on the increasing incidences of non-melanoma skin cancer, an awareness which will also benefit patients as the long-term aim is to increase the political prioritisation of non-melanoma skin cancer.