In a finding that may lead to better treatments of skin diseases, dermatologists in the US have identified genomic differences among common skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis.

Scientists from Rockefeller University found remarkable differences in the expression of genes that control the differentiation of skin cells, establishing a new paradigm for precisely classifying the diseases.

A team of researchers led by Emma Guttman and Mayte Suz—Farisaid the ability to distinguish between the disorders’ genetic and immunological signatures opens the door for more narrowly targeted therapies sorely needed by the millions of people afflicted worldwide.

The researchers used extensive genetic tests to detail the gene expression patterns in skin samples of both diseases and normal skin.

In experiments published this month in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the team drilled down on the molecular nitty-gritty that distinguishes the two most common forms of inflammatory skin disease, atopic eczema and psoriasis.

Earlier genetic testing of eczema and psoriasis did not use enough samples to produce the statistical power needed to definitively establish how each disease differs from normal skin, the researchers say.

Up to this point, scientists have focused in particular on a defect in one gene associated with some cases of eczema -- filaggrin.

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