Dermatitis—Some researchers are focusing on new treatments, including biologic agents, fatty acid supplements, and new forms of phototherapy.
Skin cancer—New ways of working with the immune system to fight cancer are being studied. Researchers are working on vaccines aimed at making a person immune to his or her skin cancer cells. Another method is to train a person's immune cells to attack the skin cancer cells. Other forms of immunotherapy are also being studied. A recent small study showed that treating patients with immune system cells found in tumors could shrink skin cancer tumors and possibly prolong life, too. Another study found that a type of white blood cell (T cells) that had their genes altered in the lab could cause tumors to shrink in a small number of patients. More studies of these treatments are being done.
Rosacea—Research conducted by Richard L. Gallo, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of California, San Diego, and the VA San Diego Healthcare System, along with an international team of investigators, has uncovered a possible flaw in the immune system that contributes to the disease. Their findings were reported in the December 2007 issue of Nature Medicine.
Psoriasis—A new wave of drug treatments known as biologics may offer those with psoriasis some relief. These medications do what previous treatments could not—go after the root of the problem by influencing the immune system. Currently, five biologics are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of psoriasis. Biologics are effective, and they also are more affordable than ultraviolet therapy, the other leading treatment for dealing with medium-to-severe cases of psoriasis.