Investigating new treatments for Atopic Dermatitis
Project Leader: Dr Tess McPherson, NIHR Clinical Lecturer
Current treatments are suppressive rather than curative and therefore have to be used for long periods of time to control disease. AD therefore places a large burden on individuals and the NHS.
Tess’s project focuses on the T-cell responses in AD, using techniques such as ELISpot, FACS analysis and tetramer staining to determine T cell function in this disease. Patients with AD have been found in Dr Graham Ogg’s lab to have an increased response to ubiquitous allergens such as house dust mite and cat dander. Additionally, work has shown that allergen specific T-cells seem to enhance other factors such as cutaneous infection. Tess is conducting further investigation of such responses and how they relate to clinical disease phenotype. Filaggrin mutations resulting in defective filaggrin protein compromise the integrity of the skin barrier, allowing infections and allergens to penetrate more easily. This research will also look at how defects in filaggrin relate to T cell responses. Tess is currently developing expertise in staining skin sections in order to develop a dynamic skin model through collaboration with histopathology. In a clinical setting, Tess is involved in translational studies combining immunotherapy and antibiotics to see if this combination can have enhanced synergistic effect as seen in the laboratory findings.