Scientists have created a highly detailed map of skin, which reveals that cellular processes from development are re-activated in cells from patients with inflammatory skin disease. The researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Newcastle University, and Kings College London, all in the UK, discovered that skin from eczema and psoriasis patients share many of the same molecular pathways as developing skin cells. This offers potential new drug targets for treating these painful skin diseases. Published in the January 22, 2021 issue of Science, the study also provides a completely new understanding of inflammatory disease, opening up new avenues for research on other inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. The Science article is titled “Developmental Cell Programs Are Co-Opted In Inflammatory Skin Disease.” Part of the global Human Cell Atlas effort (https://www.humancellatlas.org/) to map every cell type in the human body, the new comprehensive atlas of developing and adult skin is a valuable resource* for scientists worldwide. It could also provide a template for regenerative medicine, helping researchers grow skin in the laboratory more effectively. Our skin acts as a barrier, protecting us against invading bacteria or viruses, and is vital for health. Inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic eczema and psoriasis are chronic conditions, where the immune system becomes overactive, causing itchy or flaky skin that can be very painful and prone to infection. These conditions can have significant impact on people's lives, but the trigger is unknown and there is no cure, with treatments only helping to relieve the symptoms, not the cause. Skin is a complex tissue made up of many different types of cells.
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