Hazel Wilkie, PhD
Boston Children’s Hospital
Atopic dermatitis (AD, also called allergic eczema) affects 20% of children and 10% of adults. The dry, red, itchy skin lesions are often infected with bacteria. Intriguingly, skin bacterial burden increases prior to the development of eczema lesions in infant children but how or if the bacteria is causing the disease is not clear.
AD often occurs in children whose parents also suffer from allergies. This heritable link is associated with mutations in numerous genes. Patients with mutations in the DOCK8 gene universally suffer from severe AD and bacterial infections. Mice with the same DOCK8 mutations as the patients are an excellent model to investigate the pathways underlying the development of AD. We will test novel treatment strategies that target these pathways in order to reduce allergic skin inflammation.
This work will illuminate novel therapies for eczema patients targeted towards preventing disease and restoring suppression of allergic skin inflammation.
This project was funded by a 2022 PeDRA Research Grant.