Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Sunday, May 26, 2024

Hong Kong team find genetic root and effective treatment for severe skin condition

Hong Kong team find genetic root and effective treatment for severe skin condition

University of Hong Kong scientists identify genetic mutation responsible for causing painful skin condition eczema.

People who suffer from severe eczema may no longer have to endure painful and irritated skin after Hong Kong researchers discovered a genetic cause for the condition as well as a treatment that can produce life-changing results.

Researchers from the University of Hong Kong (HKU), along with 90 other investigators from 11 countries, found STAT6 gain-of-function disease could lead to an immune system malfunction and trigger serious allergic conditions such as eczema.

But they discovered a drug called Dupilumab, already available in Hong Kong, was effective against the problem.

Lau Yu-lung, HKU’s chair professor of paediatrics, said it was known earlier that eczema could be caused by genetic mutations, but scientists had not identified the specific gene responsible.

“As now we clearly know what causes eczema, we will be able to have a great treatment plan. This is what precision medicine means,” he said.

(Left to right) Dr Jaime Sou Rosa Duque, of HKU’s paediatrics department of paediatrics; Lau Yu-lung, HKU’s chair professor of paediatrics; Jesse Liao, the first Hong Kong patient found with a gene mutation that triggers eczema, and Daniel Leung, a research postgraduate student at the university’s medical faculty.


Jesse Liao Jiezu, 21, who has suffered from severe allergies, including eczema, since birth, said his life had been transformed.

He lost all his hair and underwent several operations after he had severe infections in his skin and joints. His puberty was also delayed as he could not absorb nutrients because of organ damage.

But, after more than two years of Dupilumab injections, Liao’s skin is no longer thick, scaly, itchy and painful.

He is also able to eat normally and grew 20cm (8 inches) taller.

“Before the treatment, I was a negative kid. I was always angry and sad about this condition. I could not even sleep, learn and hang out with my friends,” Liao said.

“After that, my mental health started becoming positive … I can also work now … I can’t believe it works for me because there was no medicine that worked for me in the past two decades. I’m surprised.”

Liao added he now received the injections every four weeks and the frequency could be reduced based on his condition.

Lau said a dose of Dupilumab could cost HK$6,000 to HK$7,000 (US$764 to US$892) in the private sector and it was difficult to obtain in the public healthcare system without proof the patient was suffering from STAT6 gain-of-function disease.

“Now, knowing the cause of the disease, the government will understand why they have to prescribe the medicine with the support of academic papers,” Lau said.

Patients with eczema can suffer psychological and physical symptoms.


Lau explained, however, that not all eczema cases were caused by the STAT6 gene mutation.

The study, which started in 2009, was published in the American peer-reviewed Journal of Experimental Medicine on Wednesday.

HKU researchers have collaborated with overseas academics since early 2022 and identified 16 patients from 10 families across three continents who suffered from the STAT6 gain-of-function mutation.

The gene mutation can also cause symptoms such as gastrointestinal disease, asthma, food and drug allergies and anaphylaxis – a severe allergic reaction that causes constriction of the airways and can kill.

Around 20 per cent of children around the world have eczema and patients suffer psychological as well as physical symptoms.

Skin with severe eczema might be dry, cracked, itchy, swollen and thickened, or even oozing and crusted.

The appearance of patients can be affected for a long time and sleep can be disrupted by severe itchiness.

Psychological health can also be affected by low-self esteem, stress, anxiety and depression.

Daniel Leung, a postgraduate research student at HKU’s medical faculty and co-first author of the study, said that eczema and other conditions broke out after the genetic mutation affected immune responses.

“You can imagine STAT6 is a button, which is turned on, causing the machine to malfunction,” he explained. “When STAT6 enters the nucleus, it will lead to severe allergic symptoms.

“Dupilumab can turn this button off, improving the condition.”

Lau said, although Liao was the only patient diagnosed with the genetic mutation in Hong Kong, he believed there would be many more and that researchers around the world had also started testing more patients.

He appealed to people with severe eczema, asthma or multiple food and drug allergies to get tested for the genetic problem.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
0:00
0:00
Close
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
×