Skin tissue samples from 3,000 patients to give researchers new insights into psoriasis and eczema

Herlev and Gentofte Hospital together with LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center at the University of Copenhagen establish a new research programme and biobank with skin tissue and blood samples from 3,000 patients with illnesses such as psoriasis and eczema. The biobank is the first of its kind and will help shed light on some of the most common skin diseases.

Researcher in lab
Research at the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center (Photo: University of Copenhagen)

For many years, researchers have had difficulties decoding why skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema affect some people more than others, why some patient develop comorbidities and why some patients do not respond to treatment. A new research programme including a biobank is about to change that by elucidating how skin diseases develop in patients over time. Such new knowledge is critical in order to develop new treatments tailored for each patient.

The goal is to collect data from 3,000 patients with skin diseases and in the long term also making data and knowledge available for researchers around the world.

‘We are setting up a new research programme with clinical data, blood and skin samples from 3,000 patients, which shall help us understand the widespread diseases psoriasis and eczema. We follow the patients continuously over time, which will give us unique data and new insights. Such a biobank simply does not exist anywhere else’, says Charlotte Bonefeld, Acting Executive Director and Professor at the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center at the University of Copenhagen.

The research programme and the biobank is a collaboration between the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center at the University of Copenhagen and the Department of Dermatology and Allergy at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital. The LEO Foundation has supported the programme with DKK 40 million.

Tailor-made treatment and close collaboration

About the grant

The research programme will be established by the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center at the University of Copenhagen and the Department of Dermatology and Allergy at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital. The programme is supported with DKK 40 million from the LEO Foundation and co-financed with DKK 20 million from Herlev and Gentofte Hospital and LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center.

Close collaboration between clinical and basic researchers across hospital and university is at the core of the research programme. Together with close contact to patients through patient associations, the interdisciplinary collaboration will ensure the relevance and impact of the research for the patients.

‘Our close collaboration between basic and clinical researchers provides a unique opportunity to gather patient information, skin and blood samples from the same patient over several years and will make it possible to conduct new research that will lead to more effective treatments’, says Lone Skov, Clinical Professor and Chief Physician at Herlev and Gentofte Hospital.

‘The biobank will be a valuable asset in the future as the centre and partners from all over the world will be able to access a comprehensive archive of samples and data of the highest quality. This will have a major impact on how quickly we can translate ideas into concrete results’, adds Lone Skov.

The recruitment of patients to the research programme will begin in 2021.

Top research facilities

The establishment of the new research programme also emphasises that the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center will continue to be a world-class skin research centre. The centre shall both be a base for leading researchers in skin diseases and be able to support the collaboration between basic research and the clinical environments at the hospitals.

Skin diseases

3-4 per cent of all people in Northern Europe suffer from psoriasis.

3-5 per cent of adults and 15 per cent of children suffer from atopic dermatitis.

15 per cent of adults have contact dermatitis.

In order to achieve that goal, top research facilities and infrastructure are crucial. And that is exactly what the new research programme will be contributing to.

Jesper Mailind, Chief Executive Officer of the LEO Foundation, is looking forward to following the new research programme.

“Skin diseases represent a major problem for many people in their everyday lives. That is why it is important to increase our collective knowledge about skin diseases. With the new biobank, the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center has a unique possibility to strengthen collaboration between clinical and basic research within immunology, skin and skin diseases – and to collect new knowledge which can in turn pave the way for new treatments of psoriasis and eczema,” he says.

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