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When our skin fails to protect us
Date:3/20/2012

The skin is the body's largest organ and an indispensable part of the immune system. As the body's outermost line of defense against microbes, the skin provides important protection against potentially toxic environmental elements. One subset of immune cells, thymus-derived T-cells play an important role in the skin's response to injury, particularly with respect to wound healing. When epidermal T-cells do not respond effectively, non-healing wounds may result. The treatment of chronic wounds is the single most important contributor to skin-related health care costs in the elderly. Professor Thomas Krieg, Dean of the Medical Faculty and Principal Investigator in the Cluster of Excellence for Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases (CECAD) at the University of Cologne, Germany, will address issues and treatments of chronic wounds, which are a challenge to patients and aging societies as a whole. Prof. Krieg's research at the University of Cologne's department of dermatology includes cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions as crucial components for the maintenance of healthy skin functions.

T-cells are also involved in the development of a wide range of autoimmune disorders that affect the skin and hair. Alopecia Areata, for example, is an organ-specific autoimmune disease in which T-cells attack human hair follicles and damage them with resulting hair loss. Dr. Angela Christiano, Richard and Mildred Rhodebeck Professor of Dermatology and Professor of Genetics & Development at Columbia University Medical Center, will discuss Alopecia Areata. Her major focus of research is the study of inherited skin and hair disorders in humans, through a classical genetic approach that include identification and phenotyping of disease families, genetic linkage, gene discovery and mutation analysis, and most recently, functional studies relating these findings to basic questions in epidermal biology.

Dr. David Bickers, Carl Truman Ne
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Contact: Andrea Deierlein
deierlein@germaninnovation.org
212-339-8606
German Center for Research and Innovation
Source:Eurekalert

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