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DermTech International And Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, Initiate Study To Understand Effects Of Vitamin D As A Treatment For Atopic Dermatitis In Children And Young Adults


10/27/2008 3:16:42 PM

La Jolla, CA, Oct 27, 2008 – DermTech, a biotechnology company developing EGIR™ (Epidermal Genetic Information Retrieval) technology for the non-invasive early detection of melanoma, drug development and other applications, and Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, today announced the initiation of a study involving the use of the company’s EGIR technology as a vehicle to evaluate oral and/or topical Vitamin D as a treatment for atopic dermatitis (eczema).

“We are looking forward to working with the team at DermTech and employing the company’s non-invasive EGIR (“tape stripping”) technology as part of our research,” said Lawrence F. Eichenfield, MD, Chief of Pediatric and Adolescent Dermatology, Rady Children’s Hospital and the Principal Investigator on the study. “Atopic dermatitis is a condition that gets little public attention but can have a major negative impact on a child or young adult’s quality of life. A recent small study has suggested that Vitamin D may help bolster the skin’s immune responses, but more data is needed. We will be using the EGIR technology to evaluate the expression of defense proteins in the affected population before and after treatment with Vitamin D to help elucidate a potentially important part of atopic dermatitis immunology and therapy.”

Atopic dermatitis is a common, chronic inflammatory skin disease with complex immunologic features. It has 15-20% prevalence in children within the first decade of life and there are limited therapeutic options.

In “normal skin”, anti-microbial peptides (AMP) such as cathelicidin (hCAP18/LL37) help regulate innate immunity by directly killing microbes including Gram-positive and Gram- negative bacteria, as well as fungi and certain viruses. Patients with atopic dermatitis however, lack sufficient expression of these AMPs and thus are susceptible to uncontrolled bacterial colonization and infection that may stimulate skin inflammation. It is postulated that topical Vitamin D may induce expression of cathelicidin and help stimulate an appropriate immune response.

“Rady Children’s Hospital is widely recognized for its leading-edge research and its significant contribution to scientific leadership and the community of San Diego and beyond,” said George Schwartz, CEO, DermTech. “We are very pleased to be working with Dr. Eichenfield and the researchers at Rady Children’s, to provide genetic information that will correlate to the observed clinical effects of this new potential therapy for atopic dermatitis. Ideally, the results will lead to improved options for a common pediatric disease.”

Using EGIR in the research setting represents a key application of this technology – to assess patients’ responsiveness to current or pipeline therapeutics at the genetic level. Specifically, DermTech’s patented EGIR technology will allow researchers to use a piece of custom tape, about the size of a small round band-aid, to painlessly obtain RNA from the upper layer of skin. The RNA will be extracted from the tape and using molecular biology tools, analyzed to help determine if Vitamin D induces molecular changes leading to enhanced immunity.

About DermTech:

Headquartered in La Jolla, California, DermTech International is focused on the development and validation of molecular tests using specimens obtained from the skin. The company’s proprietary Epidermal Genetic Information Retrieval (EGIR™) technology is in clinical studies to evaluate its potential as a non-invasive diagnostic for melanoma and other major diseases. It is also being studied in the context of tracking treatment efficacy for a variety of dermatologic and other conditions, including the effects of drugs on skin at the molecular level in advance of observable clinical results.

DermTech is actively pursuing research using EGIR™ and its applications in the areas of melanoma, prostate cancer and various skin disorders, such as psoriasis.

For additional information visit: www.dermtech.com.

About Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego:

Rady Children's Hospital is a 261-bed pediatric care facility providing the largest source of comprehensive pediatric medical services in San Diego, Southern Riverside and Imperial counties. As the sole hospital in the San Diego area dedicated exclusively to pediatric healthcare, Rady Children's is the region’s only designated pediatric trauma center. Rady Children's has a 54-bed Pediatric Critical Care unit and a 38-bed Neonatal Intensive care unit, along with the only comprehensive pediatric Cancer Care Center in San Diego.

For additional information visit: www.rchsd.org

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