Thursday, June 9, 2011

Scientists: We want you to stop the itch

On Twitter I heard about this survey that the University of Nottingham is doing. You can do it too!'s not exactly a big investment of effort. They ask you what you would like to learn from eczema research. I'd assume that they are hoping to get some interesting questions, like "how do food allergies develop in children aged 1-3" or "what are the genetic defects in structural proteins in the skin that are most strongly linked to adult eczema."

As a relatively well-educated guy with an interest in eczema, I was interested to step outside my skin, so to speak, and watch as I entered in my questions in the survey--I didn't think too hard, so they were my knee-jerk reactions, what I want to know at a primal level:
  1. how can I stop scratching?
  2. how can I stop scratching at night?
  3. how can I stop my scratched skin from getting infected?
Not exactly PhD material, eh?

But I think this illustrates what patients want from researchers. We are not interested in the science. We want results. And there's basically one thing we want: we want the itch to stop. If the itch stops, the scratching stops, and then there's much less risk of infection. So our challenge to researchers is "figure out what's causing the itch in eczema. Then figure out how to stop it."

I do have to say that eczema is a fascinating condition, though, when you start to read the scientific literature. I just wish my interest in it was purely intellectual.

Julie Block at the NEA asked me to write a brief research summary for the next e-newsletter, about a new discovery in itch pathways. When the newsletter comes out I'll comment on it.

1 comment:

  1. Hi...Your post really got me thinking man..... an intelligent piece ,I must say. Eczema .