The National Rosacea Society (NRS) announced that five new studies have been awarded funding as part of its research grants program to advance scientific knowledge of the potential causes and other key aspects of this chronic and potentially devastating disorder that affects an estimated 14 million Americans.
"We are very pleased that a growing number of high-quality research proposals are now being received," said Dr. Jonathan Wilkin, chairman of the society's medical advisory board, which reviews each grant application and selects for funding those believed most likely to yield important results. "As this program continues to expand, we are optimistic that it will lead to significant advances in the management of this poorly understood disorder and its potential prevention or cure."
Dr. Martin Steinhoff, department of dermatology, University of Muenster, Germany, and colleagues were awarded a $25,000 grant. They hypothesize that a protein known as endothelin-converting enzyme-1 (ECE-1) may regulate vascular function and nerve-caused inflammation in the skin, and thus be involved in the pathophysiology of rosacea. The study aims to define the expression and distribution of the four ECE-1 isoforms in both normal and rosacea tissue, which may lead to new strategies to treat rosacea.
Dr. Richard Granstein, chairman of dermatology at Cornell University, and colleagues received a research grant of $25,000. In past research, Dr. Granstein and colleagues found that substances that activate endothelial cells through the P2 cell receptors cause the release of factors that recruit and promote inflammation. In the new proposal, they will study which P2 receptors are affected, and whether inhibiting these substances in vitro may facilitate the discovery of new treatments for 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 also received a $25,000 grant. In earlier studies, they discovered that individuals with rosacea have too much of a type of natural antibiotic called cathelicidins, and plan to use animal models and artificial cell culture techniques to further examine the function and activity of cathelicidin-processing enzymes in rosacea skin. If successful, the experiments may show that abnormal regulation of cathelicidin production leads to rosacea, leading to completely new therapeutic approaches.
Dr. Payam Tristani-Firouzi, assistant professor, and Dr. Nancy Samolitis, visiting professor, department of dermatology, University of Utah, were awarded $23,600 to examine the effect of pulse dye laser (PDL) and intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment of rosacea to determine whether, in addition to reducing the amount of blood vessels, these procedures produce structural and biologic changes in the skin. The Rosacea Research Foundation donated $16,065 to the NRS toward the funding of this study.
Dr. Tristani-Firouzi and Dr. Samolitis will visually and microscopically assess the primary features of rosacea before and after treatment with PDL and IPL, including redness, visible blood vessels, and bumps and pimples. In addition, biopsy samples before and after treatment will be tested for factors that play a potential role in rosacea, including inflammatory cells, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and others.
They will also assess the size of the oil glands and the presence of Demodex mites, normal inhabitants of human skin that have been observed in greater numbers in rosacea patients. The study will include 10 patients with subtype 1 (erythematotelangiectatic) and subtype 2 (papulopustular) rosacea, each receiving treatment on one side of the face, with the other side serving as a control.
Dr. Yaxian Zhen and Dr. Albert Kligman, department of dermatology, University of Pennsylvania, will receive $25,000 to develop objective, quantitative assessments of rosacea using a variety of equipment. They note that these noninvasive methods would provide a means to measure the presence and severity of rosacea's known symptoms, perhaps identify others, and gauge their presence and severity after treatment.
The instrumentation includes scanning laser Doppler imaging, optical coherence tomography, confocal microscopy, specialized digital photography, colorimetry by chromometer and surface (nonsurgical) biopsy. Skin hydration would be measured via an electrical conductance device and a capacitance measuring device, and the skin's topography studied by a fringe projection device.
In an earlier study, Dr. Zhen and colleagues showed that rosacea shares many common features with acne, including increased sebum production and density of Demodex mites, as well as the presence of the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes.
Researchers interested in applying for grants can obtain forms and instructions by contacting the National Rosacea Society, 111 Lions Dr., Ste. 216, Barrington, Illinois 60010, telephone 1-888-662-5874, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submitting proposals for research grants in 2006 is September 15. More information is available online at www.rosacea.org/grants/.
Because the etiology of rosacea is unknown, a high priority in awarding grants is given to studies relating to its pathogenesis, progression, mechanism of action, cell biology and potential genetic factors. Proposals relating to epidemiology, predisposition, quality of life and relationships with environmental and lifestyle factors may also be considered.
Rosacea is a chronic disorder primarily of the facial skin, characterized by flare-ups and remissions. According to the NRS standard classification system for rosacea, developed by a consensus committee and review panel of 17 medical experts worldwide, its primary features include flushing, persistent erythema, papules and pustules, and telangiectasia, while secondary features may include ocular manifestations, burning and stinging, plaques, dry appearance, edema, locations beyond the face and phymatous changes. In most cases, some rather than all of these signs and symptoms appear in any given patient.
The National Rosacea Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with rosacea by raising awareness, providing public health information and supporting research on this common but biologically poorly understood disorder.