Medical scientists reported significant progress in exploring the potential causes and other key aspects of rosacea during a recent research workshop organized by the National Rosacea Society.
The session was attended by more than 70 researchers, and was held for the second year during the annual meeting of the Society for Investigative Dermatology to review ongoing studies funded by grants from the National Rosacea Society and to foster increased scientific interest in rosacea research.
"The generous support of rosacea sufferers in funding research is now beginning to bring important new insights into this chronic and little-known disorder," said Dr. Frank Powell of Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, and a leading rosacea researcher. "Because current therapy is limited to controlling symptoms, identifying the cause or causes of rosacea is a fundamental step that should not only help improve treatment, but may ultimately lead to its cure or prevention." The National Rosacea Society's research grants program is funded by individual donations, and readers are encouraged to send tax-deductible contributions using the Donation Form.
Dr. Marita Kosmadaki, a research fellow in the Department of Dermatology, Boston University, reported interim results of the study, "The role of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in rosacea development," now in its second year of funding by the Society. Based on study results the first year, Dr. Kosmadaki and colleagues concluded that the effects of the sun on VEGF, a natural substance in the body that has a potent effect on blood vessels, may lead to persistent redness and the development of telangiectasia (visible blood vessels).
This year, the researchers noted that TNF alpha, a substance that makes the skin more receptive to VEGF, was stimulated by the sun, and they are now studying whether blocking TNF alpha may inhibit rosacea development.
Dr. Ethan Lerner, associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, is studying whether nitric oxide, a potent dilator of blood vessels, may play a role in rosacea. During his study, microscopic views of mice -- bred to have high levels of nitric oxide in their skin -- have shown inflammation around the hair follicles, a hallmark of rosacea.
Dr. Lerner is now examining skin samples from patients with mild rosacea for the presence of nitric oxide, and is applying an agent to inhibit the enzyme that makes nitric oxide. Results, however, were too early to be definitive, he said.
Dr. Powell reported that he and colleague Dr. Kevin Kavanagh of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth found that Demodex mites, microscopic organisms found in all human skin, were far more numerous on the faces of rosacea patients than in a normal control group. They are now in the process of identifying bacteria from the mite that may be a factor in rosacea.
Dr. Mark Dahl of the Mayo Clinic - Scottsdale presented a completed study on the relationship of rosacea and skin temperature, reported in detail in the article New Study Links Warmer Skin to Rosacea Bumps and Pimples.