The National Rosacea Society (NRS) has awarded funding for six new studies as part of its research grants program to advance scientific knowledge of potential causes and other key aspects of this chronic and often life-disruptive disorder that affects an estimated 14 million Americans.
"Our research grants program is seeing real momentum as important new high-quality proposals continue to arrive and earlier studies are bearing fruit," said Dr. Richard Odom, professor of dermatology at the University of California-San Francisco and a member of the NRS medical advisory board, which selects the research proposals for funding.
Dr. Mark Mannis, chairman of ophthalmology at the University of California-Davis, and colleagues were awarded $21,419 to study subtype 4 (ocular) rosacea, which affects the eyes. They noted that despite its frequent appearance, the effect of rosacea on the eyes often does not receive medical attention, and that the vision-threatening aspect of rosacea is virtually always associated with undiagnosed and untreated cases. They plan to look for abnormalities in the proteins and lipids present in the tear film of rosacea patients, and believe that significant differences between rosacea and normal patients might reveal a diagnostic marker.
Dr. Youwen Zhou, assistant professor of dermatology and director of the Chieng Genomics Center at the University of British Columbia, will receive $25,000 to expand on the continuing NRS-funded investigation of gene expression profiles that so far has identified a difference in several genes between normal and rosacea-affected skin. The researchers theorize that patients with rosacea may express different levels of certain genes that may be involved in the signs and symptoms of the disorder.
Dr. Martin Steinhoff, department of dermatology, University of Muenster, Germany, and colleagues were awarded a $25,000 grant to determine whether proteinase-activated receptor-4 (PAR-4) and its activators are expressed in different phases of rosacea; whether they modulate expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which has been implicated in rosacea; and whether they stimulate the release of natural pro-inflammatory substances in cells that may be associated with the development of rosacea. Their previous NRS-funded study found that certain proteases and their activators may play an important role in inflammation associated with rosacea.
Dr. Richard Granstein, chairman of dermatology at Cornell University, and colleagues will receive $25,000 to research how adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an agent their earlier studies showed initiates a response in certain microvascular cells in the skin, may promote rosacea. They hypothesize that ATP may contribute to local vascular and immune responses linked to redness, as well as other characteristics of cell biology relevant to inflammation.
Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, department of biology, National University of Ireland Maynooth, was awarded $25,000 to pursue further research on the potential role of bacterial antigens in subtype 2 (papulopustular) rosacea, which includes facial redness, bumps and pimples. In an earlier NRS-funded study, he and his colleagues succeeded in isolating a bacterium from Demodex folliculorum, microscopic mites found to inhabit the facial skin of rosacea patients in greater numbers. The bacteria produced antigens that induced an inflammatory response in significantly more rosacea patients than controls. In the new study, they will determine whether the presence of the antigens is predictive of rosacea.
Dr. Richard Gallo, chief of the division of dermatology at the University of California-San Diego, and Dr. Kenshi Yamasaki of the Veterans Medical Research Foundation will receive $25,000 for further study of cathelicidins. The investigators earlier found that this natural substance in the body can cause inflammation and an increase in blood vessel growth, and is abnormally high in rosacea patients. In the new study they will investigate the causes of abnormal cathelicidin production and potential treatments to correct this problem.