Researchers discover compound effective in treating atopic dermatitis

September 17, 2013

By NOBUTARO KAJI/ Staff Writer

KYOTO--Japanese researchers have discovered a chemical compound that can reduce symptoms of atopic dermatitis, a type of eczema, by enhancing the barrier of epithelial surfaces of the human skin.

A team led by Kenji Kabashima, an associate professor of dermatology at Kyoto University, added the organic compound JTC-801 to human skin cells grown in vitro, and that found the amount of filaggrin, a protein that is synthesized near the surface of skin and plays an important role in skin barrier function, rose about 10-fold.

The researchers also gave mice born with genetic atopic dermatitis tiny amounts of the compound each day, starting six weeks after birth, when they typically develop the disease.

The dosage was based on 30 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.

Four weeks after the start of the treatment, the condition of their skin showed strong improvement.

The team’s research results are expected to be published in the online edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on Sept. 17.

Experts hope the latest findings will lead to the development of a new drug with fewer side effects.

Atopic dermatitis is an allergy caused by foreign substances that pass through the skin barrier and stimulate the immune responses. Existing treatments using steroids and other drugs suppress the immune response, but such treatments can cause serious adverse effects, such as lowering resistance to illness.

While researchers around the world have been competing to discover a new atopic dermatitis therapy that enhances the skin barrier function, Kabashima currently plans to develop a new drug for the disease with Astellas Pharma Inc. using the compound.

“I hope to market a new drug in 10 years,” Kabashima said.

By NOBUTARO KAJI/ Staff Writer
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