Atopic dermatitis is one of the most common chronic skin diseases, an allergic condition characterized by dry red itchy skin and oozing lesions. Lifetime prevalence of the disease is estimated to be between 10% and 15%. Since people living with atopic dermatitis patients also should not receive the vaccine, it is possible that close to 40% of the population are not currently eligible to routinely receive smallpox vaccination. Decisions about whom to vaccinate are complicated by the fact that there are no reliable medical tests that can definitively say if a person currently has or has had atopic dermatitis in the past.
The researchers will conduct both laboratory and clinical studies to understand why atopic dermatitis patients are susceptible to eczema vaccinatum, to find biomarkers that can definitively identify atopic dermatitis patients in general and those who are especially susceptible to eczema vaccinatum, and to develop protocols to safely vaccinate atopic dermatitis patients.
"We expect that our research program will lead to safer smallpox vaccination for atopic dermatitis patients and a more thorough protection of our population against a bioterrorist attack using the smallpox virus," said Dr. Leung. "In addition, it should lead to a better understanding of atopic dermatitis, more effective treatments, and possibly methods to prevent the disease."
In addition to National Jewish Medical and Research Center, the Clinical Studies Consortium of the Atopic Dermatitis and Vaccinia Network will include research teams at Oregon Health & Science University; Boston Children's Hospital; University of
Contact: William Allstetter
National Jewish Medical and Research Center