Researchers Discover Method to ‘Turn Off’ Mutated Melanoma

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and notorious for its resistance to conventional chemotherapy. Approximately 25 percent of melanoma is driven by oncogenic mutations in the NRAS gene, making it a very attractive therapeutic target. However, despite decades of research, no effective therapies targeting NRAS have been forthcoming.

Reportedly for the first time, an international group of researchers has discovered a novel activator of NRAS and developed a specific inhibitor to effectively prevent NRAS mutant melanoma growth. These findings provide a promising therapeutic option to treat NRAS mutant melanoma.

These findings appear in the journal CELL, according to a media release from Boston University School of Medicine.

The researchers first identified STK19 (an enzyme encoded by the STK19 gene) to be a critical regulator of NRAS function. Then they characterized the mechanism by which this activation takes place through biochemical and cellular experiments. Finally, they designed an STK19 inhibitor that efficiently prevented NRAS activation and development of NRAS mutant melanoma in an experimental model.

“This study provides a promising therapeutic strategy for melanoma treatment. Furthermore, the STK19 inhibitor might be a therapeutic option in 25 percent of all cancers with RAS mutations,” explained corresponding author Rutao Cui, MD, PhD, professor of pharmacology & experimental therapeutics at Boston University School of Medicine. “We hope our findings ultimately will be clinically translated into improved care for cancer patients.”

[Source(s): Boston University School of Medicine, EurekAlert]

Molecule Discovery Holds Promise for Gene Therapies for Psoriasis

Scientists have discovered a protein that could hold the key to novel gene therapies for skin problems including psoriasis – a common, chronic skin disease that affects over 100 million people worldwide.

The protein is a fragment of a larger molecule, called JARID2, which was previously believed to only be present in the developing embryo, where it coordinates the formation of tissues and organs.

However researchers led by Dr Aditi Kanhere from the University of Birmingham’s School of Biosciences found a shortened form of JARID2 in adult skin cells, and they showed it is responsible for ensuring these skin cells ‘differentiate’ (become a more specialised cell type).

They dubbed the newly discovered protein ΔN‐JARID2. The significance of this finding was immediately recognized by Dr Kanhere’s team, which studies how gene expression is regulated in normal and diseased conditions, explains a media release from University of Birmingham.

“In some diseases, cells lose their ability to differentiate, and reproduce more rapidly. Being able to redirect cells back to their usual life cycle could alleviate the processes behind the disease,” Kanhere explains in the release.

This is the case with psoriasis, which is caused by the rapid reproduction of skin cells. These excess cells are then pushed to the surface of the skin too quickly, resulting a build-up of cells that aren’t fully mature on the surface of the skin, and causing flaky, crusty red patches covered with silvery scales.

Kanhere’s research, published recently in EMBO Journal, shows that ΔN‐JARID2 is present in the skin layers, where it is where it is responsible for ensuring that the tissues maintain their usual state of differentiation which is necessary to properly form skin layers.

The discovery has caught the eye of the patenting team at University of Birmingham Enterprise, who filed a broad-based patent covering the use of ΔN‐JARID2 in therapies aimed towards conditions caused by hyper-proliferation of skin cells such as psoriasis.

The research team is now investigating how ΔN‐JARID2 is generated and its wider implication in disease, while the patenting team hopes that this discovery will ultimately lead to novel therapies for skin conditions, the release continues.

[Source(s): University of Birmingham, Science Daily]

Investigational Cream May Help Treat Atopic Dermatitis, Study Notes

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology indicates that an investigational nonsteroidal topical cream (PAC-14028) may be effective for treating atopic dermatitis, one of the most common inflammatory skin diseases.

The trial involved a cream that blocks the transient receptor potential vanilloid subfamily, member 1, an ion channel involved in the perception of pain. This channel also contributes to inflammation and itchy skin in patients with atopic dermatitis.

In the 8-week, randomized, double-blind, multicentre, study that enrolled 194 adults with mild to moderate atopic dermatitis, the cream improved clinical symptoms and signs with a favourable safety profile.

According to the authors, a phase III clinical trial is underway to test if the topical medicine is safe and effective in teens and adults, explains a media release from Wiley.

[Source(s): Wiley, EurekAlert]

Researchers ID How Skin Ages, Loses Fat and Immunity

This is a microscopic image of the skin reveals skin cells in blue and fat cells in green. The fat cell layer forms the final barrier against bacteria entering deep into the body. (Photo courtesy of UC San Diego Health)

Pictured here is a microscopic image of the skin reveals skin cells in blue and fat cells in green. The fat cell layer forms the final barrier against bacteria entering deep into the body. (Photo courtesy of UC San Diego Health)

University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers and colleagues show how fibroblasts develop into fat cells and identify the pathway that causes this process to cease as people age. The study was published in Immunity.

“We have discovered how the skin loses the ability to form fat during aging,” says Richard Gallo, MD, PhD, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology at UC San Diego School of Medicine and senior author on study.

“Loss of the ability of fibroblasts to convert into fat affects how the skin fights infections and will influence how the skin looks during aging,” he adds.

Gaining weight isn’t the path to converting dermal fibroblasts into fat cells since obesity also interferes with the ability to fight infections. Instead, a protein that controls many cellular functions, called transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β), stops dermal fibroblasts from converting into fat cells and prevents the cells from producing the antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin, which helps protect against bacterial infections, reported researchers, a media release from University of California – San Diego explains.

“Babies have a lot of this type of fat under the skin, making their skin inherently good at fighting some types of infections. Aged dermal fibroblasts lose this ability and the capacity to form fat under the skin,” Gallo adds. “Skin with a layer of fat under it looks more youthful. When we age, the appearance of the skin has a lot to do with the loss of fat.”

In mouse models, researchers used chemical blockers to inhibit the TGF-β pathway, causing the skin to revert back to a younger function and allowing dermal fibroblasts to convert into fat cells. Turning off the pathway in mice by genetic techniques had the same result.

Understanding the biological process that leads to an age-dependent loss of these specialized fat cells could be used to help the skin fight infections like Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) — a pathogenic bacteria that is the leading cause of infections of the skin and heart and a major factor in worsening diseases, like eczema. When S. aureus becomes antibiotic resistant it is known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, which is a leading cause of death resulting from infection in the United States.

The long-term goals and benefits of this research are to understand the infant immune system, Gallo states. The results may also help understand what goes wrong in other diseases like obesity, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases, per the release.

[Source(s): University of California – San Diego, EurekAlert]

SOGI Knowledge Important for Every Provider, Even Dermatologists, UMN Researchers Opine

University of Minnesota researchers recently published an opinion piece in JAMA Dermatology focused on standardizing the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in dermatology clinical settings.

This is reportedly one of the first published articles that advocates for standardizing SOGI, or sexual orientation and gender identity, data collection in a subspecialty clinical setting (ie, outside of primary care settings such as general internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics), a media release from the University of Minnesota Medical School notes.

“These data collection efforts acknowledge the fact that a patient’s many identities are really important to all providers because they empower physicians and other healthcare staff to provide higher quality care that is both evidence-based and culturally sensitive,” says lead author Matthew Mansh, MD, resident in the Department of Dermatology, University of Minnesota Medical School and University of Minnesota Health, in the release.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual ,and transgender people face a number of unique health disparities, including dermatologic-specific disparities. Some examples given in the article include that gay and bisexual men are more likely to report a history of melanoma, nonmelanoma skin cancer, and indoor tanning. In addition, gay and bisexual men and women with acne are more likely to experience depression and suicidal ideation.

“Understanding the sexual orientation and gender identity of our patients should be important to all providers, including dermatologists. This information can ultimately impact nearly every aspect of clinical reasoning, or the way doctor’s ‘think’ in clinic – history taking, physical examination, differential diagnosis, and management decisions during clinical encounters, including the provision of, or referral for, preventative health services that can be enormously important for a person’s overall health” Mansh continues, in the release.

“This information is valuable to all healthcare providers regardless of what specialty they practice,” he adds.

[Source(s): University of Minnesota Medical School, EurekAlert]

Research IDs Potential Dermatological Uses for Cannabinoids

With the recent legalization of medical marijuana in 33 states across the country, as well as Washington, D.C., several specialties are weighing the possibilities of integrating cannabinoids into patient therapies, including dermatology.

Recent research has identified potential uses for cannabinoids, which are derived either from the resin of the cannabis plant or synthetically produced in the lab, in treatment for conditions such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and wound healing.

Read the full press release at

Save Your Skin From the Ravages of Cold Weather

Winter can be hard on your skin, but you can take steps to keep it soft and supple, dermatologists say.

“When the weather changes, your skin care products should, too. For most of us, dry skin makes an appearance in the winter due to changes in temperature and humidity, so you need to think about appropriate skin care formulations,” says Dr Rajani Katta. She’s a clinical professor of dermatology with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

In a media release, Katta and her colleague, Dr Megan Rogge, an assistant professor of dermatology at the university, offered these tips to protect your skin:

  • Choose thick skin creams over watery lotions. “Lotions are the least moisturizing, because they have such a high quantity of water. Creams are a better choice for those with dry skin,” Katta says.
  • Use sunblock. Rogge explains that, “even when the temperature drops, the sun’s rays can still emit powerful ultraviolet radiation. If you’re close to snow or water, those UV rays can be even more potent due to the reflective surfaces, which makes wearing protection paramount.”
  • Don’t take long, hot showers. “Many of us love to linger longer in steaming hot showers, particularly when it’s cold outside. These feel great, especially when your skin is itchy,” Rogge adds. “But this can actually damage your skin barrier, and also exacerbate dry, itchy skin. That’s why it’s recommended to limit showers to 10 minutes, and use lukewarm water instead of hot water.”
  • Soak and smear to help lock moisture into your skin. Katta states, “After soaking your skin, you want to smear on your moisturizer. In other words, after you take a shower, you’ll step out of the shower, pat dry just a little bit, then apply a moisturizer while your skin is still damp.”
  • Wear gloves. “An important part of looking after your skin is using the right protective gear,” Katta notes. “Gloves keep your fingers warm and protect them, too.”
  • Use a humidifier in your home. According to Rogge, “Winter dry skin gets worse once you start turning on the heat in your home. That heat starts to dry the air in your home, which in turn starts to dry your skin. A humidifier in your bedroom when you sleep can really help.”

[Source(s): University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, HealthDay]

8 Ways Rosehip Oil Benefits Your Skin, According to Dermatologists

Extracted from the seeds of rose plants, rosehip oil may help reduce redness, turn back the signs of aging, calm acne, and act as a foolproof moisturizer—at least, that’s what reviewers, bloggers, and natural beauty lovers claim online. But does rosehip oil live up to the hype? Yes, according to the dermatologists we talked to.

Here, exactly how rosehip oil benefits your skin and the easiest way to add it to your beauty routine.

Veterans Prefer Telehealth Consults for Plastic Surgery, According to Study

A pilot study led by Yale plastic surgeons shows that multiple visits to treat various skin conditions could be reduced to one by using telemedicine. The study was published recently in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open.

According to the research team, the vast majority of the patients in the Connecticut VA system who participated in the study preferred the telemedicine consultation to a traditional face-to-face visit.

Read the full news story at