Skin and Oral Disease

Our clinical and scientific research develops new diagnostics and therapeutic approaches in skin and oral diseases.

More about Skin and Oral Disease research in Newcastle

Skin diseases are the most common reason for attending the GP in the UK. Approximately 800,000 people per year are referred to secondary care dermatologists when they visit their GP. Severe periodontitis is the 6th most common condition worldwide.

Skin and Oral Disease Theme Lead: Professor Muzlifah Haniffa 

Environmental factors like chronic sun exposure can also play a significant role in skin disease development and progression.  Oral diseases, such as periodontitis exacerbates and complicates management of other chronic diseases of ageing – particularly diabetes.

We will use our findings from our studies in healthy volunteers, psoriasis, atopic eczema, periodontitis and critical care cohorts, to evaluate the effect of ageing and other age-related comorbidities (diabetes, hypertension) on inflammatory response, disease evolution and response to treatment.

Skin and Oral Disease research in Newcastle

Led by Prof Muzlifah Haniffa, our biomedical research programme will support experimental medicine and translational studies in skin and oral diseases, namely;

  • inflammatory skin disease
  • ultraviolet therapy, ageing and immunity
  • acute skin inflammation
  • inflammatory oral disease

Within the Skin and Oral disease theme, we have significant clinical and scientific expertise, as well as close national and international academic and industry collaborations and networks. Through these we are able to facilitate the progression into larger scale national trials and stratified medicine studies, ultimately influencing national agenda and policies related to skin and oral diseases.

Our aims

Our theme focuses on inflammatory long-term conditions, and the interaction with the environment (including UV light and the microbiome) and ageing. We will leverage findings from our studies in healthy volunteers and critical care cohorts to evaluate the effect of ageing and other age-related comorbidities (diabetes, hypertension) on inflammatory response, disease evolution and response to treatment.

We are interested in understanding more about inflammation and infection in the skin and oral cavity, with a view to generating new diagnostics and therapeutics.

These studies are designed to challenge the current thinking and begin the process for the delivery of novel vaccines, biomarkers, and first-into-man intervention studies.

We expect that our work in redefining our understanding of how skin and oral diseases are developed, will yield a range of new targets during the lifetime of the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre programme. We aim to use this work to develop new treatments that have been designed to target specific disease pathways for individual patients.

We also aim to improve on two particular clinical scenarios currently used:

  • Whole body UVB phototherapy, which is one of the few treatments that can clear psoriasis and induce remission.
  • On the basis of the serial microbiome analyses of oropharyngeal secretions in critically ill patients described above, we shall perform experimental medicine studies to determine if the (almost inevitable) emergence of virulent pathogens can be delayed or prevented using non-antibiotic based strategies.

How we carry our research into skin and oral diseases

Skin and Oral disease research is carried out through clinical trials with patients and volunteers, as well as basic scientific and experimental studies on human cells.

There is a vast number of patient cohorts registered for past on ongoing investigator-led clinical trials relating to skin and oral disease research. Patient and public participation of this kind is vital to developing rich and detailed information on biomarkers, assisting in the development of stratified medicine.

The Skin and Oral disease theme has a leading role in national networks, and close interactions with industry. This underlines our potential to extend our discovery science into the design and development of first-into-man studies (as lead investigators and in collaboration with industry).

The brand-new and state-of-the-art Newcastle University Single Cell Unit (NUSCU) allows Skin and Oral disease researchers to perform single cell analysis at the genomic, transcriptomic and protein level.

Two key areas of the NUSCU which relate to our work in the NIHR Newcastle Biomedical Research Centre are, the Bioinformatics Support Unit and the Bio-Imaging Unit.

Through technologies and capabilities in the Bioinformatics Support Unit, we are able to draw on computational models of diseases such as psoriasis, to develop further refinement and personalisation of treatments.

The Bio-Imaging Unit provides a comprehensive image analysis suite allowing users to perform off-line deconvolution and create automated analysis workflows.