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The latest research into the effects of skin disorders on young people

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We're delighted to announce new funding for two researchers, who are aiming to increase our understanding of skin disorders in young people.

Their research will focus on atopic dermatitis, one of the most common forms of eczema, acne and orofacial granulomatosis, a rare skin condition affecting the skin around the mouth.

Skin conditions are common during adolescence, a period of significant physical and psychological development. Dealing with a skin disorder while experiencing puberty and sudden changes to the body can be overwhelming, often impacting self-esteem, and for some, leading to more serious mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression.

Despite the prevalence of skin disorders in young people, there are limited treatment options available and there is a pressing need for more research investment. Eczema alone costs £417 million to UK healthcare, yet in 2022, only £13.1 million was invested into all skin research.

Following on from our previous investments in skin disorders research, we are proud to be supporting this new work led by Dr Lavinia Paternoster and Dr Natalie Prescott.

Dr Lavinia Paternoster Dr Lavinia Paternoster

Investigating the effects of eczema and acne on mental health

Dr Lavinia Paternoster from the University of Bristol will use genetic data to find out more about the relationship between eczema and acne, and young people’s mental health.

Dr Paternoster’s team will combine their previous research findings on genetic risk factors for eczema with large genomic datasets to see if (and how) having eczema or acne can result in mental health complications.

By investigating the biological mechanisms underpinning eczema, the team will be able to see if these structures can serve as future drug targets, which could improve treatments. The research will also examine existing treatments, to see if they have any contributing factors to the onset of mental health issues.

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Dr Natalie Prescott Dr Natalie Prescott

Exploring the causes of orofacial granulomatosis to find better treatments

Orofacial granulomatosis (OFG) is a rare skin condition affecting the skin around the mouth, causing swollen lips and cheeks, as well as swellings or ulcers inside the mouth. It can often begin in young people, impacting their appearance and mental wellbeing.

As OFG is uncommon and varies in how it presents in patients, it is not yet fully understood, and no cure has been discovered.

Alongside her team at King's College London and Guy's Hospital, Dr Natalie Prescott will look at the genetics of OFG and the bacteria in the mouth and gut. They will then see if a connection can be made between these genes and microbes, and OFG symptoms.

Dr Prescott’s team have been running a clinic for OFG patients for many years, having closely studied over 400 cases. The group is interested in how diet influences OFG and have found that avoiding certain foods may help manage symptoms, so they will also study patients’ blood chemistry and lifestyle habits for their research.

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