Barrier function background

There is an increasing realization of the importance of the barrier in the development, characterization and management of a range of disorders. Barrier defects have been reported in atopic dermatitis (AD), asthma, chronic rhinosinusitis, allergic rhinitis, esophagitis and colitis. Assessment of barrier impairment provides insight into these disorders, but the assessment of skin barrier has to date been limited to research methods. Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common, complex chronic inflammatory skin disease. It is well known that an impaired skin barrier is a critical factor in the development of atopic dermatitis or eczema. Skin barrier dysfunction is the initial step in the development of AD, and poor skin barrier function at birth is predictive of the development of atopic dermatitis. It has also been shown that atopic dermatitis or impaired skin barrier often precedes food allergy because reduced skin barrier function allows environmental food allergens to penetrate the skin leading to systemic allergen sensitization. This is called “The atopic march” and refers to the natural progression of atopic diseases from atopic dermatitis in infancy to atopic asthma in school age children.

Opportunities for SciBase in Barrier function testing

The research has applied SciBase’s Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) system Nevisense, to a new clinical area, barrier-related disorders. Building on work done within atopic dermatitis (AD) by Stig Ollmar and SciBase over a decade ago, research has been done to assess skin barrier function in mice. The aim of the research, was to establish a method to assess the skin epidermal barrier function in vivo , so that it could be used as a diagnostic tool for barrier-related inflammatory disorders of the skin, such as AD. A study entitled ‘Direct assessment of skin epithelial barrier by electrical impedance spectroscopy’, was published in the journal Allergy, European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, and conclude that ‘ Electrical Impedance spectroscopy is a rapid and reliable diagnostic tool to detect skin barrier defects’. The study illustrates clear potential for the use of Nevisense in routine clinical evaluation of the barrier, and the investigation of barrier-related disorders. The future vision for Nevisense within the barrier indication is a device that could be used to investigate the barrier quickly and easily in a routine clinical setting for e.g.  analysing treatment responses and selection of skin barrier defective patients. Early detection of skin barrier defective babies before atopic dermatitis starts is an unmet need, since these babies can be included in skin barrier protection programs to prevent the development of atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis affects more than 10% of the world’s population and 80% of the patients are babies The breadth of the potential applications is extraordinary – disorders such as eczema, food allergies and asthma, and even some gastrointestinal disorders involve the barrier.

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