"Researchers have long known that eczema and asthma are linked; however, there currently isn't an established, long-term treatment that controls eczema and thereby may have the ability to reduce the chances of developing asthma," said Jon Hanifin, M.D., professor of dermatology in the OHSU School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study.
Studies have shown that 50 percent of babies diagnosed with eczema at age 3 months who have a family history of allergic disease may develop asthma by age 5, according to Hanifin. He and his colleagues hope early intervention -- at ages 3 to 18 months -- and long-term treatment with the study drug Elidel will prevent the incidence of asthma in this highly susceptible patient population.
Last fall 17-month-old Elisabeth Haslam, Vancouver, Wash., developed a rash all over her legs and torso. "She itched terribly and scratched a lot," said Jennifer Haslam, Elisabeth's mother. After a month of incessant itching and scratching, Elizabeth's pediatrician recommended Jennifer enroll her daughter in Hanifin's study.
"I work in health care and know how difficult it can be to find patients willing to enroll in research studies," said Haslam. "My eldest daughter, Emily, who is now 5, also has eczema, mainly in the creases of her elbows, on the backs of her knees and the tops of her feet. She recently completed a separate clinical trial of Elidel at OHSU."
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic, recurring skin disease characterized by red, crusted lesions on the face, scalp and extremities, and by oozing, crusting, extremely itchy broken skin. Some 10 percent of infants develop eczema and it persists in roughly 15 million adults an
Contact: Tamara Hargens
Oregon Health & Science University