New diagnostic test to distinguish psoriasis from eczema

July 10, 2014

In some patients, the chronic inflammatory skin diseases psoriasis and eczema are similar in appearance. Up to now, dermatologists have therefore had to base their decision on which treatment should be selected on their own experience and an examination of tissue samples.

A team of researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now analyzed the molecular processes that occur in both diseases and discovered crucial differences. This has enabled them for the first time to gain a detailed understanding of the ways in which the respective disease process occurs. Building on this knowledge, the scientists, led by Dr. Stefanie Eyerich and Prof. Dr. Kilian Eyerich as well as Prof. Dr. Fabian Theis, have developed a diagnostic procedure which in practice enables psoriasis and eczema to be reliably differentiated from one another on the basis of only two genes.

A better understanding of molecular processes

"Both diseases have a highly complex appearance, which often varies widely from one patient to another," says Dr. Stefanie Eyerich, who heads the Specific Immunology working group at the Institute of Allergy Research (IAF) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München. "This has led previous attempts to compare their molecular signature to fail." In this study, the researchers identified 24 patients who were suffering simultaneously from psoriasis and eczema and in each analyzed at the molecular level the characteristic differences they demonstrated between psoriasis and eczema compared to clinically unremarkable skin.

"We were thus able to drastically reduce random genetic or environmental influences and gain a detailed picture of the development of these two diseases," explains Prof. Fabian Theis of the Institute of Computational Biology (ICB) at the Helmholtz Zentrum München.

Paving the way for personalized medicine

In recent years, many new specific treatments have been developed for psoriasis and eczema. However, in each case, these are only effective for one or other of the two diseases. And they are very expensive: one such treatment generally costs several tens of thousands of euros per year, per patient. The ability to make an exact diagnosis therefore has a considerable economic impact.

If it cannot be clearly determined on presentation which of the two diseases is involved, the newly developed diagnostic tool will help to differentiate them. It involves a test which compares samples of diseased and healthy skin and is concluded within one day. The researchers have now filed a patent application for it.

The procedure, moreover, marks the first step towards the introduction of personalized medicine also for chronic inflammatory skin diseases. "Whereas this is practiced increasingly in oncology, for example in the form of mutation analyses and the subsequent decision in favor of the best individual treatment option, it is not common in the case of inflammatory skin diseases," says Kilian Eyerich of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Dermatology at the Technical University of Munich.

The researchers plan to purse this path with a view to characterizing even more precisely the involved in inflammatory and combining them with clinical information, such as the choice of certain treatments. In this way, their goal is to determine the best possible treatment option for each individual patient.

Explore further: X-ray dark-field radiography provides detailed imaging of lung diseases

More information: Quaranta, M. et al, (2014), "Intra-individual genome expression analysis reveals a specific molecular signature of psoriasis and eczema," Sci Transl Med, 2014 July 9th; Vol. 6, Issue 244, p. 244ra90; Sci. Transl. Med. DOI: 10.1126

Related Stories

X-ray dark-field radiography provides detailed imaging of lung diseases

May 27, 2014
Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) working in cooperation with the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Hospital (KUM) and the Technischen Universität München (TUM) tested for the first time X-ray dark-field ...

How the skin of patients with psoriasis protects itself from virus infections

October 2, 2013
Scientists at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have discovered why patients with psoriasis are less susceptible to viral infections than patients suffering from atopic dermatitis (atopic eczema). The reason for this ...

Stimulating a protein in skin cells could improve psoriasis symptoms

June 5, 2014
Psoriasis is a common, long-lasting disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. Environmental contaminants can trigger psoriasis and other autoimmune disorders, and it is thought that ...

Recommended for you

Targeting 'broken' metabolism in immune cells reduces inflammatory disease

July 12, 2017
The team, led by researchers at Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London and Ergon Pharmaceuticals, believes the approach could offer new hope in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like arthritis, autoimmune ...

A perturbed skin microbiome can be 'contagious' and promote inflammation, study finds

June 29, 2017
Even in healthy individuals, the skin plays host to a menagerie of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Growing scientific evidence suggests that this lively community, collectively known as the skin microbiome, serves an important ...

Inflammatory bowel disease: Scientists zoom in on genetic culprits

June 28, 2017
Scientists have closed in on specific genes responsible for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) from a list of over 600 genes that were suspects for the disease. The team from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their collaborators ...

Trials show unique stem cells a potential asthma treatment

June 28, 2017
A study led by scientists at Monash University has shown that a new therapy developed through stem cell technology holds promise as a treatment for chronic asthma.

Researchers find piece in inflammatory disease puzzle

May 23, 2017
Inflammation is the process by which the body responds to injury or infection but when this process becomes out of control it can cause disease. Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers, in collaboration with ...

Researchers reveal potential target for the treatment of skin inflammation in eczema and psoriasis

May 22, 2017
Superficially, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis may appear similar but their commonalities are only skin deep. Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is primarily driven by an allergic reaction, while psoriasis is considered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.