In addition to specializing in patient care, faculty in the UF Department of Dermatology are actively engaged in on-going research programs. Our research in the treatment of the skin is propelling the department into the forefront of the dermatology research across the nation.
Research efforts at the University of Florida Department of Dermatology include several different areas, they are:
Atopic Dermatitis – by Dr. Rosanna Marsella
Dr. Marsella’s area of research is atopic dermatitis and the identification of novel treatments. Atopic dermatitis in dogs has striking similarities with the human counterpart both clinically and immunologically. As atopic dermatitis is a prevalent, chronic disease affecting 10-15% of children in Westernized countries, studies to identify new treatments using a canine model have been in great demand. Dr. Marsella has developed an experimental model of atopic dermatitis in dogs at UF which has been instrumental in studies on pathogenesis and studies to rapidly screen drugs with potential to be effective treatment options for both dogs and children. This model is unique in the world and represents a major improvement compared to the mouse model since dogs naturally develop atopic dermatitis and are genetically closer to humans than mice are. Being a clinician at heart, Dr. Marsella’s research has been formed by clinically relevant questions taking them to the bench and applying information acquired back to the clinics to improve treatments available to our patients.
Langerhans cell biology – by Dr. Mansour Mohamadzadeh
Dr. Mohamadzadeh and his team at the University of Florida in Gainesville are currently focused on two main projects 1) the development of orally administered vaccines against cancer and infectious disease, and 2) the modulation and rebalancing of exaggerated inflammation in various disease processes, including psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colon cancer.
The establishment of a novel orally administered vaccine that does not require injection and is targeted against melanoma or breast cancer requires the activation of professional antigen presenting dendritic cells (i.e., Langerhans cells) to initiate a potent anti-tumor immune response mediated by antigen-specific T cells. Such immunomodulation can be achieved via the genetically engineered probiotic bacterium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, which expresses various targeted regions of the melanoma-associated antigen (i.e., MAG1-3, Melan A) in the gut. Data from our laboratories and others show promising results concerning the feasibility of our novel approach to deliver a vaccine of interest that induces not only mucosal, but also systemic immune responses against cancer and infectious disease.
The link between induced pathogenic inflammation in diseases that include psoriasis and pre-cancerous colonic polyps has been well established, with significant supporting evidence from immunogenetic, pharmacological, and epidemiological studies. Inflammation and its regulation are known to be complex processes in response to changes in the microenvironment; identifying bacterial gene products that enhance protective versus pathogenic inflammation in the gut is critical to rebalance homeostasis in chronic gastrointestinal (GI) immune mediated pathology. To this end, data obtained from our research projects using the genetically modified beneficial bacterium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, clearly demonstrates that controlling induced pathogenic inflammation in the mucosa and in the periphery significantly mitigates the progression of various diseases, including autoimmune diseases, IBD, psoriasis, contact hypersensitivity, and colon cancer.
Ongoing mechanistic studies in our laboratories provide a clearer understanding of the signals delivered by L. acidophilus-surface layer molecules to intestinal cells (i.e., DCs) that might initiate critical immune responses that either enhance or subvert pathogenic inflammation. We believe that targeted preventive and therapeutic strategies will be more effective when cellular interactions are understood in depth and when critical molecules involved in bacterial induced inflammation that may culminate in colonic and cutaneous neoplasia, inflammation, or anti-inflammatory responses are identified.