National Rosacea Society Awards New Grants to Study Poorly Understood Facial Disorder

BARRINGTON, Illinois (January 11, 2005) -- The National Rosacea Society (NRS) announced that six new studies have been awarded funding as part of its research grants program to expand scientific knowledge of this widespread but poorly understood skin 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, a member of the NRS medical advisory board, which reviews and selects the research proposals for funding. "Several grants were awarded to researchers who are now building on previous study results, and we are also pleased to fund a new study for much-needed research into ocular rosacea."

Dr. Mark Mannis, chairman of ophthalmology at the University of California - Davis, and colleagues will receive $21,419 to study ocular rosacea. They note that despite its frequent appearance, ocular rosacea often does not receive attention from the medical community, 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 marker for the early diagnosis of ocular rosacea.

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 a continuing NRS-funded investigation of gene expression profiles that so far have identified a difference in several genes between normal and rosacea-affected skin. The researchers hypothesize that patients with rosacea may express different levels of certain genes that may be involved in new blood vessel formation, inflammation and other 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 are implicated in the pathophysiology of rosacea, such as endothelial cells. The researchers' previous NRS-funded study found that certain proteases, natural substances capable of activating a specific receptor on a cell, 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 human dermal microvascular endothelial cells, may promote rosacea. They hypothesize that ATP may contribute to local vascular and immune responses by acting on certain cell receptors, and they will also determine if ATP modifies other characteristics of endothelial 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 papulopustular (subtype 2) rosacea. In an earlier NRS-funded study, he and his colleagues succeeded in isolating a bacterium from Demodex folliculorum, microscopic mites that are a common inhabitant of facial skin. 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 the onset of rosacea, in order to establish whether they play a significant role.

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 to study how cathelicidins, one of the body's own natural antibiotics, become active on the skin surface. The investigators earlier found that this type of antimicrobial peptide, which can cause inflammation and an increase in blood vessel growth, is abnormally high in rosacea patients. In a new study they will be investigating the causes of abnormal cathelicidin production and treatments that can correct this problem.

Researchers interested in applying for grants can obtain forms and instructions by contacting the National Rosacea Society, 800 South Northwest Highway, Suite 200, Barrington, Illinois 60010, telephone 1-888-662-5874, e-mail The deadline for submitting proposals for research grants in 2005 is September 15. More information is available online at

Because the etiology (cause) 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, the primary features of rosacea 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 recently published classification system also identifies four subtypes, defined as common patterns or groupings of signs and symptoms. These include subtype 1 (erythematotelangiectatic) rosacea, characterized by flushing and persistent erythema, and which may also include telangiectasia; subtype 2 (papulopustular) rosacea, characterized by persistent erythema with transient papules and pustules; subtype 3 (phymatous) rosacea, characterized by phymatous changes, most often rhinophyma -- enlargement of the nose from hyperplasia; and subtype 4 (ocular) rosacea, characterized by ocular manifestations such as dry eye, tearing and burning, blepharitis, conjunctival injection, recurrent chalazion (styes) and potential vision loss from corneal damage. Many patients experience characteristics of more than one subtype at the same time.

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.

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Publication Date: 
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Press contacts:
Mary Erhard, Emma Terhaar

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The National Rosacea Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of people with rosacea by raising awareness, providing public health information and supporting medical research on this widespread but little-known disorder. The information the Society provides should not be considered medical advice, nor is it intended to replace

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