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‘Master Regulator’ in genes may make women more susceptible to autoimmune diseases

Researchers at the University of Michigan (U-M) Ann Arbor, recently published a study in Nature Immunology that was aimed at exploring why women are disproportionately more susceptible to autoimmune diseases. “[Through research], our team identified a gene expression difference between the sexes that is associated with susceptibility to autoimmune disease,” says senior author Dr. Johann Gudjonsson, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. Finding clues in skin Because Dr. Gudjonsson’s lab has focused on autoimmune diseases of the skin, the researchers decided to take a broader approach to this study by investigating gene expression in the skin of health

Expression of specific gene differentiates moles from melanoma

Decreased levels of the gene p15 may represent a way to determine if a nevus is transitioning to a melanoma, according to findings published in the American Journal of Pathology (Nov. 14, 2016; 186(12):p3094–3099). During the study, the team stained human nevus and melanoma tissue samples with p15 and p16 antibodies. Staining was evaluated and graded for percentage and intensity to determine an “H-score,” which correlates with the level of protein in the cells. The authors noted that this approach could also form the basis of a clinical determination, taking the form of an antibody test for p15 from a patient’s biopsy specimen. “If the staining level is high then that would be most consisten

Topical agent may prevent burn wound infection without antibiotics

A new technique to prevent the infection of burn wounds works by preventing the microbes from finding binding sites on host cells may represent a viable method of managing multi-drug-resistant bacteria, according to a paper published in Scientific Reports (Dec. 20, 2016). “In the United States, there are more than one million burn injuries and 100,000 hospitalizations annually. Up to 75 per cent of the mortality in burn patients is associated with infections, which are particularly common in patients who suffer extensive burns—those that cover 40 per cent or more of the body,” said Dr. Steven Wolf, section chief for burns and professor of surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medic

5 tips for your patients considering exfoliating their skin at home

Here are some recommendations you can provide to your patients regarding how they can safely exfoliate their skin at home, according to an Illinois-based dermatologist courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). While some people believe that exfoliation improves the appearance of their skin, dermatologists from the AAD say it’s not for everyone and—if not done properly—could do more harm than good. “For some people, exfoliation can actually make their skin worse—with increased redness or acne breakouts,” said Dr. Rebecca Clare Tung, associate professor of dermatology at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill. Since every type of exfoliation may not work for every skin t

Partners can help identify melanoma

In a study of patients with previous melanoma diagnoses, their partners—who received skin examination training—identified far more mole irregularities than those in the control group, and they grew more confident performing the examinations. The study, published in JAMA Dermatology (Dec. 14, 2016), was conducted by researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. The investigators found the benefits of partners frequently checking for troublesome moles far outweighed the embarrassment experienced by the patient. Common places to develop potentially fatal melanoma include hard-to-see areas where it is difficult to apply sunscreen, such as behind the ears and knee

New resource helps to identify psychiatric comorbidities

Two Canadian clinicians have published an update that summarizes the current state of psychodermatology, a field that deals with the link between skin and mind. In the update, they outline the changes relevant to psychodermatology in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 the edition (DSM-5) and synthesize them with the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) guidelines. Published in Skin Therapy Letter (May 2016; 21(3):4–7), the paper was created as a resource to be a tool to help dermatologists and other physicians easily recognize psychiatric comorbidities in skin conditions, and to provide them with options on how to proceed when they do identify p

Five-year findings show topical imiquimod 5% effective for low-risk BCC

Findings from a five-year trial of 5% imiquimod cream for treating superficial and nodular basal cell carcinomas show sustained benefits for those lesions that respond to the cream early, though surgery remains a superior intervention, according to a paper published online ahead of print in Journal of Investigative Dermatology (Dec. 5, 2016). This research was an extension of an earlier three-year follow-up study comparing 5% imiquimod cream to traditional Mohs excision, which had found an 83.6% success rate for patients treated with imiquimod at three years, versus 98.4% for traditional surgery, according to a press release. Over the longer five-year period, data was available for 383 parti

U of T researchers discover biomaterial that helps heal chronic wounds

Dr. Lewis Reis (left) and Professor Milica Radisic used their unique peptide-hydrogel biomaterial to heal chronic wounds faster than commercially available products. (Photo by Marit Mitchell) Researchers at the University of Toronto have demonstrated that a peptide-hydrogel biomaterial prompts skin cells to “crawl” toward one another, closing chronic, non-healing wounds often associated with diabetes, such as bed sores and foot ulcers. The team, in their study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Sept. 19, 2016), tested their biomaterial on healthy keratinocytes, as well as on keratinocytes derived from elderly diabetic patients. They saw non-healing woun

New test detects recurring Merkel cell carcinoma sooner

A new immune system marker test may allow patients who have been successfully treated for Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) to be stratified by risk of recurrence and potentially allow any recurrence to be detected earlier, researchers report online in the journal Cancer (Dec. 7, 2016). The new test measures the presence of an antibody to a cancer-driving protein produced by a virus that causes MCC, according to a press release from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where the research was conducted. MCC has a high recurrence rate, with cases treated at their earliest stage returning 20% of the time, according to the press release. “Catching and treating the recurrence before i

White wine intake influences risk of melanoma

White wine intake was associated with a modest increase in the risk of melanoma among Caucasian men and women, according to a study published online in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (Dec. 6, 2016). During the study, the researchers used data from three large prospective cohort studies in which 210,252 participants were followed for a mean of 18.3 years, using food-frequency questionnaires to determine their alcohol consumption. According to the authors, a standard drink was defined as 12.8 grams of alcohol. Findings suggested that alcohol intake was associated with a 14% higher risk of melanoma per drink per day. In particular, each drink per day of white wine was associated w

Psoriasis drug may be hitting too many targets

Targeting interleukin (IL)-12 as part of psoriasis treatment may be counterproductive, according to findings from a recent study published online ahead of print in Nature Communications (Nov. 28, 2016). Researchers at the University of Zurich and the Center of Allergy and Environment in Munich used a preclinical model for psoriatic plaque formation to investigate how two of the immune messengers bound by ustekinumab—IL-12 and IL-23—influence skin cells apart from one another. “The research findings that have been achieved in the last ten years show that IL-23 plays the central role in the development of psoriasis,” Burkhard Becher, PhD, professor at the Institute of Experimental Immunology o

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