New approaches to the treatment of atopic dermatitis

The epithelium is the outermost layer of cells in an organ and provides a strong barrier function in order to prevent or treat allergic diseases. In the case of an allergy, this cell layer of the skin, nose or lungs becomes permeable. From studies with patients suffering from eczema, asthma or rhinitis, researchers from Area D have learnt that the barrier function of the particular epithelium does not operate properly.

The focus has been placed on tight junctions (TJs). Tight junctions (TJs) are narrow bands of proteins that hold together the outermost cells of a tissue and thereby form a barrier. This prevents penetration by substances from the environment, e.g. allergens, pollutants and bacterial toxins. Defects in the TJs disrupt this barrier function in the airways and lungs therefore play an important role in the development and existence of asthma.
It was suspected that one of the most effective approaches to allergy prevention is to maintain the functionality of these TJs and thereby ensure the tissue does not become permeable.

Early detection of permeability of the epithelium can consequently be used as early diagnosis in allergy-prone children and can help in taking the first necessary precautions. In an initial step, new methods of performing this analysis are being addressed. Thus treatment to protect the barrier function may become the method of choice for some patients with atopic dermatitis or other allergic diseases.

Researchers from Area D have studied the regulation of these TJs by a cell group that is typical of allergies (denTh2 cells) and their released messengers in both healthy and asthmatic individuals. The data showed that these Th2 cells and their messengers reduce the integrity of the TJs and hence the outermost barrier of cells. However, if one specific enzyme (HDAC) has been blocked, the defective barrier function could be restored as the cells increase the formation of TJ molecules.
Four new molecules have been identified which are responsible for the development of eczema in allergy patients. Furthermore, new and promising approaches to the diagnostic criteria and the treatment of the serious form of atopic dermatitis have been defined.

Spatial transcriptomics combined with single-cell RNA-sequencing unravels the complex inflammatory cell network in atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder affecting up to 3%–5% of adults and 20% of children worldwide. The pathophysiology of AD involves various factors including host genetics, altered skin barrier function, and immunological abnormalities. 

Atopic dermatitis: Correlation of distinct risk factors with age of onset in adulthood compared to childhood

Atopic dermatitis (AD) has long been regarded as a primarily pediatric disease. However, there is growing evidence for a high rate of adult-onset AD. We aimed to characterize factors associated with adult-onset versus childhood-onset AD and controls.
An analysis of the CK-CARE-ProRaD cohort revealed adult-onset AD in nearly a quarter of patients. We identified active smoking to be associated with adult-onset AD versus controls. Food allergy, maternal food allergy, palmar hyper linearity, and academic background increased the odds of childhood-onset AD versus controls.

Shared AD-associated factors were maternal AD (4-34x), increased IgE (2-20x), atopic stigmata (2-3x) with varying effect sizes depending on AD onset and control group. Patients with adult-compared to childhood-onset had doubled odds of allergic rhinitis, but reduced odds to feature multiple (3-4) atopic comorbidities. Adult-onset AD, particularly onset ≥61 years, grouped mainly in clusters with low contributions of personal and familial atopy and high frequencies of physical inactivity, childhood-onset AD, particularly infant-onset, mainly in “high-atopic”-clusters.

The identified associated factors suggest partly varying endo- and exogeneous mechanisms underlying adult-onset versus childhood-onset AD. Our findings might contribute to better assessment of the individual risk to develop AD throughout life and encourage prevention by non-smoking and physical activity as modifiable lifestyle factors.

Certification by the Swiss Biobanking Platform – VITA-Label

Building up a proper Governance through accountable mechanisms is key to foster trustworthiness and the pre-requisite for the appropriate use of biological resources. Our CK-CARE Biobank has recently been awarded by Swiss Biobanking Platform (SBP) with the VITA Label, which demonstrates compliance with the applicable legal and ethical framework. This labelling approach is part of our long-term strategy to strengthen biobanking practices and provide high-quality samples to the research community.

CK-CARE Team Meeting October 10th- 11th, 2022

This year’s CK-CARE team event in Davos focused on strengthening cross-center communication and collaboration. Our team members got to know each other and the canton of Grisons better by producing several Grisons specialties as “cross-center team building” in preparation for the scientific work. This as a goal to promote teamwork! Although there was no knowledge about the production of Graubünden delicacies, let alone anyone with appropriate skills, each team excelled in its own way. Driven by trust, respect and genuine motivation to solve the tasks set, the team members met the challenge of working together with fun and creativity as an important preparation for the following day’s research activities. It was a successful meeting – we look forward to many more.

Certification by the Swiss Biobanking Platform – OPTIMA-Label

Davos BioSciences AG achieved the official OPTIMA label of the Swiss Biobanking Platform for its biobank infrastructure as of 30.05.2022. This is another important step for Davos BioSciences AG and CK-CARE. The label attests to the full implementation of a QM system. The OPTIMA-Label confirms: “Compliance with the Good Biobanking Practices; in particular OECD Best practice guidelines for biological resource centres (2007), ISBER Best practices (2018) and IARC Common minimum technical standards (2017). It follows established standards, including the ISO 20387:2018 – general requirements for biobanking. This certification approach is part of our long-term strategy to provide high-quality samples to the research community”.

Certification by the Swiss Biobanking Platform

After some effort, Davos BioSciences AG achieved the official NORMA label of the Swiss Biobanking Platform for its biobank infrastructure as of 17.08.2021. This is an important step for Davos BioSciences AG and CK-CARE. The NORMA-Label confirms: “Compliance with professional standards is essential to perform our daily biobanking activities according to Good Biobanking Practices; in particular OECD Best practice guidelines for biological resource centres (2007), ISBER Best practices (2018) and IARC Common minimum technical standards (2017). It follows established standards, including the ISO 20387:2018 – general requirements for biobanking. This certification approach is part of our long-term strategy to provide high-quality samples to the research community”. Certificate of the Swiss Biobanking Plattform