Lotion May Treat Skin Diseases

Posted: July 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Imagine a lotion that can treat irreversible genetic skin diseases like psoriasis or life-threatening skin cancers like melanoma. Researchers at Northwestern University say they're another step closer to creating a treatment that will naturally slip through the skin and genetically alter cells to treat a particular skin disease.

Using creams and lotions to target a particular problem area is seen as a great advantage among many dermatologists in treating a localized skin problem.

"We like to treat skin diseases with topical creams so that we avoid side effects from treatments taken by mouth or injected," said Dr. Amy Paller, chair of dermatology and professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

But the difficulty among researchers has been creating a gene-altering topical agent that can successfully penetrate the skin to specifically treat genetic skin diseases.

"The problem is that our skin is a formidable barrier," Paller said. "Genetic material can't get through the skin through regular means."

Using nanotechnology, the researchers packaged gene-altering structures on top of tiny particles of gold designed to target epidermal growth factor receptor, a genetic marker associated with many types of skin cancers. The structure is designed to sneak through the skin and latch onto targets underneath without eliciting an immune response.

The researchers mixed the structure into the ointment Aquaphor, which is commonly used among many patients who have dry skin or irritation.

The researchers then rubbed the ointment onto the mice and onto human skin tissue and saw the gene-altering structure in the lotion successfully penetrated the skin and was able to shut down the potentially cancer-causing protein, according to the findings published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The preliminary study is regarded as the first to deliver topical gene therapy effectively with no toxic effects.

Topical steroids are the most commonly used cream-based treatment for skin problems such as psoriasis. While they can treat inflammation or other effects of a skin disease, they do not treat the underlying mechanism that's causing the problem, Paller said. And in cases like melanoma, the diseased cells are often surgically removed from the skin, leaving scarring.

Read more:
Lotion May Treat Skin Diseases

Related Post

Comments are closed.

Archives