Researchers from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology in California have revealed a cellular protein triggering the dry, itchy skin condition that affects 15-20 percent of children worldwide at some point.

The team, led by Toshiaki Kawakami, showed that a cellular protein known as STAT5 plays a key role by increasing mast cells - key culprit in causing eczema - in the skin.

“The discovery opens the door to create new therapies to prevent or better treat eczema based on blocking STAT5 in mast cells,” said Kawakami.

“We found that the number of mast cells, which we have previously shown to be important in mouse atopic dermatitis, is increased in human patients.

"We also showed that these mast cells contain high levels of the active form of STAT5."

When STAT5 is knocked out in the mast cells (of specially engineered mice), the mice become resistant to atopic dermatitis,” said the study published in the journal "Cell Reports".

Eczema is a condition in which the skin becomes inflamed or irritated and is marked by redness, itchiness and dry, cracked skin.

The exact cause of eczema is unknown, but it's thought to be linked to an overactive response by the body's immune system to allergens and irritants, similar to other allergic diseases such as asthma and food allergy.


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