The National Rosacea Society (NRS) has awarded funding to four new studies as part of its research grants program to advance scientific knowledge of the potential causes and other key aspects of this chronic and potentially life-disruptive disorder.
"We are extremely grateful to the thousands of rosacea patients whose donations are used to support this important program," said Dr. Jonathan Wilkin, chairman of the NRS medical advisory board, which reviews and selects grant applications for funding. "The ongoing study results are making significant inroads toward the better understanding and management of rosacea, as well as its potential prevention or cure."
Dr. Robert W. Walters, assistant professor, dermatology, and Dr. Robert J. Lefkowitz, professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center, were awarded $25,000 to study the role of beta-arrestin in cutaneous flushing. The researchers pointed out that niacin, or vitamin B3, long associated with severe flushing, stimulates receptors on skin cells that react by activating both G and beta-arrestin proteins. However, they noted that a recent study has identified niacin-like drugs that can stimulate only the G protein but do not induce flushing, suggesting that it is the beta-arrestins that may regulate flushing. The results of the new project are intended to lead to better understanding of changes in skin blood flow and possible treatments for this significant symptom of rosacea.
Dr. Curdin Conrad, senior postdoctoral research fellow at MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Dr. Alexander Navarini, senior postdoctoral research fellow at University Hospital of Zurich, Switzerland, were awarded $21,450 to study the role of plasmacytoid dendritic cells and interferon alpha in rosacea.
They noted that their work is a logical follow-on to the studies by Dr. Richard Gallo and colleagues, also supported by the NRS, which found that in rosacea, antimicrobial peptides such as cathelicidins are involved. Given that these peptides are part of the innate immune system, their work will examine the next steps in the body's immunological process to see whether type I interferon, glycoproteins that help fight viral infections, and plasmacytoid dendritic cells, which produce interferon, are present in 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 were awarded $25,000 to continue their NRS-funded research of how cathelicidins may play a role in the development of subtype 2 (papulopustular) rosacea.
Past support from the NRS has enabled them to show that people with rosacea have too much of a molecule known as cathelicidin, and using mice and artificial cell culture techniques, they showed that this excess leads to rosacea symptoms. They have also shown that the overabundance of cathelicidin is the result of an excess of an enzyme in the facial skin.
In the new study, the researchers will test their hypothesis that the abnormal enzyme is a critical step in the development of rosacea, which may in turn suggest a potential therapy.
Dr. Joseph Rothnagel, associate professor, and Dr. Manuela Trabi, adjunct lecturer, department of molecular and microbial sciences at the University of Queensland, Australia, were awarded $18,000 for their study, "The role of tissue kallikreins in rosacea." This study will also build from the work of Dr. Gallo and colleagues. They noted that these previous studies reported involvement of the enzyme hK5 and protein CAP18, and hypothesize that at least one other enzyme is also elevated in rosacea. They will study whether proteins known to be crucial for skin integrity are also digested at a higher than normal rate by these enzymes, allowing easier access for pathogens.