UWSDRC Funds Six Pilot Awards In 2019

After a successful application cycle, the UW Skin Disease Research Center announces funding of six new pilot projects totaling almost $200,000. We are pleased to fund several applications with direct clinical relevance in this cycle, as well as several with basic research focus. We received nine applications exploring a wide range of research topics, and the six chosen reflect this broad spectrum. Additionally, we are pleased to collaborate again with the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR), who will co-fund two of these applications.

The 2019 SDRC pilot projects funded are as follows:

Title: Host-Microbiome Interactions and Cutaneous Tissue Repair (Co-Funded with UW ICTR)
PI: Lindsay Kalan, PhD
Chronic non-healing wounds, such as diabetic foot ulcers, arise when normal tissue repair processes are interrupted. The microbiome of chronic wounds, which includes bacteria and fungi from both the wound and adjacent unaffected skin, contributes to this condition, but its role is poorly understood. We will simultaneously characterize host and
microbial gene expression in response to debridement. We will simultaneously characterize host and microbial gene expression to understand how the microbiome modulates host responses associated with tissue repair. This work may lead to novel diagnostic markers to predict healing outcomes. (Co-funded with ICTR)

Title: Testing the properties of dermal white adipose tissue in skin: a potential modifier of the anti-inflammatory beta-adrenergic environment
PI: Ildiko Kasza, PhD
Decreasing the amount of fat embedded in skin has the potential to improve mouse and human “health-span” by increasing exposure to the “β-adrenergic environment.” This environment has been shown to affect a variety of conditions, such as obesity-relate diseases, fatty liver disease, tumor susceptibility, and cardiovascular disease. We seek to enhance our understanding of the properties and regulation of skin-associated fat and how it contributes to disease progression or prevention. We will test topical treatments that have potential to modify skin-associated fat thickness in order to study its effect on the development of inflammatory conditions.

Title: Laser Hair Removal for Primary Treatment of Pilonidal Disease Requiring Surgical Intervention (Co-Funded with UW ICTR)
PIs: Hau Le, MD, Lisa Arkin, MD, Evie Carchman, MD, and Kevin Janek, MD
Pilonidal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gluteal cleft that affects adolescents and young adults. It reduces quality of life by causing persistent discomfort, drainage and sometimes systemic symptoms leading to missed school or work days. The pathophysiology of the disorder is thought to begin with thick hair leading to formation of cysts, abscesses and sinuses within the gluteal cleft. Surgical excision is considered first-line treatment, but the recurrence rates following surgery approach 30%. Recurrence is thought to be due to regrowth of the hair driving the process. Better treatments are needed. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of laser hair removal as primary treatment for patients with moderate to severe pilonidal disease.

Title: Use and Perception of Dermatologists in Minimally Invasive Gender Affirmation Procedures and Effect on Quality of Life
PI: Jon Klinton Peebles, MD
An individual’s gender expression–how an individual conveys gender identity to others—does not always align with their birth sex or gender identity. Gender expansive individuals may choose to undergo gender affirmation procedures to align gender expression and/or individual anatomy with their gender identity. Because gender identity and expression can be fluid and may evolve over time, it is important that less invasive and nonpermanent options exist for gender affirmation treatment. Dermatologists are able provide such treatment, but the low rate of dermatologic care for gender affirmation suggests that other factors may act as a barrier. We will conduct a survey of UW Health patients with a clinical history related to gender affirmation asking about the use and perception of dermatologists for gender affirmation procedures.

Title: Precision-tailored DNA therapeutics for psoriasis
PI: Aseem Ansari, PhD and Deeba Syed, MBBS, PhD
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin that affects 3% of the US population. Individuals with psoriasis may develop painful and debilitating arthritis, metabolic syndromes, and cardiovascular disease. Current treatments for moderate-to-severe psoriasis are slow to take effect, have limited effectiveness, and can be toxic. Pyrrole/imidazole-based polyamides have emerged as a class of synthetic molecules that can be programmed to bind specific DNA sequences, using well-defined molecular recognition rules. We will test the potential effectiveness of these synthetic small molecules in psoriatic skin.

Title: Formaldehyde in Textiles: Impact on Allergic Contact Dermatitis
PI: Margo J. Reeder, MD
Patients allergic to formaldehyde must be cautious when choosing types of clothing as they may be exposed to formaldehyde released from durable-press finishes. The threshold of formaldehyde needed to cause allergic contact dermatitis in patients is unknown. This pilot study will determine the amount of formaldehyde in today’s wrinkle-resistant clothing, and how formaldehyde release levels vary with repeated washing. We also want to determine the threshold amount of formaldehyde needed to incite allergic contact dermatitis in formaldehyde-allergic patients.

More information about the UW SDRC Pilot and Feasibility Studies Program—information is a hyperlink to pilot program site.