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Gene That Causes Dry Skin, Identified

by Medindia Content Team on March 20, 2006 at 11:34 AM
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Gene That Causes Dry Skin, Identified

Eczema is a type of skin condition that affects millions of people. Scientists at the University of Dundee have discovered the gene which causes dry skin leading to eczema and asthma.

This gene produces the protein filaggrin. Filaggrin is present in abundance in the outermost layers of the skin. It prevents bacteria and viruses from colonizing the skin at the same time retain water to prevent the skin from drying. Reduction or absence of the protein leads to dry and flaky skin. With this discovery the researchers are trying to find a complete solution and not be contented by treating the symptom.

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At present the treatment available for eczema is the use of emollients and ointments or anti-inflammatory drugs. The findings of this study are to be published in the journal Nature Genetics. The research is funded by Glasgow, Dublin, Seattle and Copenhagen. Professor Irwin McLean, of Dundee University's human genetics department, said that this gene was know for quite sometime but was difficult to analyze. After cracking down the gene the researcher commented that it was a dawn of a new era in the understanding and treatment of eczema and the type of asthma that goes with eczema as well.

But Experts said that this new treatment would take some time before coming to the main stream of medicine. The study involved Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children in Dublin, showed that about 10% of Europeans carry a mutation that switches off the filaggrin gene, causing a very common dry, scaly skin condition known as ichthyosis vulgaris.
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Statistics show that about five million people in the UK have a milder form of the condition, while 120,000 people in the UK have no filaggrin protein and often require specialist treatment. More than one million people are predicted to have the severe form of the condition worldwide. Life becomes very difficult for those suffering from this condition. It is very distressing and life became very stressful. It requires a constant regime of moisturizing and washing. Now this study is of great help for these patients.

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