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Dermatology Research Group

The Research Challenge:

The Dermatology Research Group is focused on the molecular mechanisms of inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and hidradenitis suppurativa. Psoriasis is a chronic cutaneous disease currently affecting over 100,000 people in Ireland. Psoriatic plaques are characterized by Th1/Th17 cell activation and IL-17 production. Treatment of psoriasis includes ultraviolet light therapy, topical and systemic medications such as dimethylfumarate and biologics. Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common skin condition in a childhood, but it can occur at any age. AD is manifested by red and itchy skin. AD is caused by defects in the epidermal barrier leading to inflammation and increased risk of staphylococcal, viral and fungal infections. Studies indicate that AD patients have abnormal cutaneous immune functions, however, the molecular mechanisms are not understood. Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a lifelong disfiguring skin conditions characterized by painful nodules and abscesses in the armpits, breast, groin and buttocks areas. The estimated prevalence of HS in Ireland is 1.4 %. Known risk factors are family history, obesity and smoking however the molecular triggers of HS remain poorly described.

What we are doing:

Observational Research Studies

  • To address the mechanism of action of dimethylfumarate (DMF), a first-line systemic therapy for moderate to severe psoriasis
  • To investigate abnormal innate and adaptive immune cell functions in HS.
  • To study the role of innate lymphoid cells (ILC) in HS and psoriasis
  • To identify novel genetic predispositions to HS, using a genome-wide association study (GWAS)


Clinical Research Studies

  • To investigate the use of microdialysis as an investigation tool for inflammatory pathways in HS, atopic dermatitis and psoriasis
  • To explore the key mediators of inflammation in patients suffering from psoriasis or AD prior and during treatment with phototherapy, and in HS patients prior to and during treatment with Humira using transcriptomics and proteomic

Current Clinical Trials

  • OMICS: Identification of molecular drivers of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis using transcriptomics and proteomics.
  • DERMMARK: Identification of key mediators of inflammation in patients with HS prior to and during treatment with Humira.
  • HARMONY: An observational multi country study to research the efficacy of Humira in patients with HS.
  • SERENA: Investigation of the effectiveness of Secukinumab in adult patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.
  • M15-574: A multicentre study to assess the safety of Humira in conjunction with surgery in subjects with moderate to severe HS.
  • BADBIR: Investigation of the long-term safety for patients treated with biologic agents, compared with conventional systemic therapy.

Who we are:

  • Prof Brian Kirby – Consultant Dermatologist