The National Rosacea Society announced that four new studies of rosacea have been selected for funding as part of its research grants program to encourage and support the advancement of scientific knowledge of this widespread but poorly understood facial disorder.
"We are pleased that the number of grant applications has continued to increase since the awarding of the first grants from this important new program last year," said Dr. Jonathan Wilkin, chairman of the Society's medical advisory board, which reviewed and selected the grant applications for funding.
These and other studies are intended to help identify the causes and other key aspects of this often life-disruptive condition, and results will be published in future issues of Rosacea Review. Readers can make a tax-deductible contribution by mailing a check to the National Rosacea Society, 111 Lions Dr., Ste. 216, Barrington, Illinois 60010.
Dr. Ethan Lerner, associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, was awarded $25,000 to study the potential role of nitric oxide, a molecule produced by virtually all human cells, in causing rosacea. Nitric oxide can make the blood vessels open more widely, causing skin to appear red, and can also lead to inflammation -- both symptoms of rosacea. He will study whether the enzyme that makes nitric oxide and the gene that produces this enzyme are elevated in rosacea patients.
The Society awarded $24,700 to Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, Department of Biology, National University of Ireland, Maynooth, to study whether bacteria associated with the Demodex mite, a normal inhabitant of human skin that often appears in greater numbers in individuals with rosacea, may trigger the disorder directly by their presence or indirectly by stimulating the immune system.
Dr. Mina Yaar, professor of dermatology at Boston University Medical School, was awarded $25,000 to determine whether blood vessels in the affected areas of rosacea patients are more sensitive than those in unaffected areas to vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which has a potent effect on blood vessels and may be associated with rosacea by abnormally increasing facial blood supply.
Dr. Yaar will also study whether exposure to ultraviolet light, found in sunlight, leads to skin that has increased receptors for VEGF. In addition, she has found a molecule that may decrease VEGF production, and intends to determine whether this molecule may also block an increased sensitivity of the blood vessels to VEGF.
In a study previously funded by the Society, Dr. Yaar found that VEGF was produced by skin cells of fair-skinned individuals prone to rosacea after exposure to ultraviolet light.
A grant of $22,330 was awarded to Dr. Patricia Fitzpatrick, an epidemiologist with the Department of Public Health Medicine & Epidemiology, University College, Dublin, to document whether rosacea occurs more frequently in those with skin damaged by the sun, those with fair skin and those of Irish descent -- all frequently identified as potential rosacea risk factors.