A Tailored Eczema Vaccine May Treat Flares in Children

A Tailored Eczema Vaccine May Treat Flares in Children featured image
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Released in JCI Insight, a new study from Ireland’s Trinity College Dublin posits that a vaccine “tailored to Atopic Dermatitis” may help treat eczema flares in childhood. Eczema impacts up to 25% of children. And the itchy, flaky skin it produces can be notoriously difficult to treat and even diagnose. Between multiple causes for flares and growing resistance to antibiotics, an eczema vaccine would be revolutionary.

According to Beverly Hills dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD, eczema is a result of an immune response. “Eczema is an immune response that is often genetic and triggered in many cases by environmental factors [irritants, allergens, foods] or stress,” Dr. Shamban explains. “Eczema is in the dermatitis family, specifically called atopic dermatitis. The trigger will activate the natural defense system within the body creating a response with inflammation and irritation manifested by dry scaly skin, redness and itching.”

In this study, researchers focused on the most frequent culprit that triggers that immune response: Staphylococcus aureus. “We identify a systemic and cutaneous immunological signature associated with S. aureus skin infection in a pediatric Atopic Dermatitis cohort,” the study explains.

How Does that Lead to an Eczema Vaccine?

“There is a real need for new options to treat and prevent infected flares of eczema in children,” says lead study author, consultant dermatologist Dr. Julianne Clowry in a statement. “Current strategies are limited in their success and – even when they do provide relief – the effects may be short-term as symptoms often return. Although antibiotics are needed in some cases, scientists are trying hard to deliver alternative options due to the growing problems posed by antimicrobial resistance.”

Eczema in children is difficult to treat and often leads to infected flares. And finding that signature means more targeted and more effective care. That could lead to an eczema vaccine.

“In combination, these factors make a tailored vaccine a very attractive target as it could limit the severity of eczema, lead to better longer-lasting outcomes, and reduce the need for antibiotics – all while also reducing the risk of complications and potentially the development of other atopic diseases, such as hayfever and asthma,” Dr. Clowry explains.

What comes next is a lot more research, and potentially the development of an eczema vaccine.

“Further work is now required to broaden the scope of these results, by expanding to a larger number of people,” explains Professor in Immunology at Trinity and senior author on the study, Rachel McLoughlin. “This will help confirm if the patterns identified are consistent among different age groups, and in sub-groups with greater ethnic diversity. We believe that a more comprehensive understanding of the immune response to this bacteria S. aureus in eczema, has significant potential to revolutionise [sic.] treatment approaches and make a major translational impact in the management of eczema.”

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