psoriasis on a middle aged man's elbow
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A €50 million ($53.6 million) 10-year grant from the LEO Foundation will be used to establish the LEO Foundation Skin Immunology Research Center based at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, to convene international researchers in skin immunology and skin diseases to enable better diagnoses and more effective treatments of a wide range of skin diseases such as psoriasis and eczema.

“Our strong research environment in Greater Copenhagen, one of the world's leading research regions, give us a unique possibility to firmly establish Danish research into skin, skin disease and immunology on the world map,” said Ulla Wewer, Dean, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, at University of Copenhagen. “Skin disease is a significant day-to-day problem for many people which is why we wish to contribute our accumulated knowledge and efforts to these diseases.”

Skin diseases affect as many as one-quarter of the world’s population, and the skin is largest human organ, protection people from bacteria, viruses and other foreign substances. It acts as our shield from disease and as an extension of the human immune system. The new research center will work to foster information sharing among the international community of skin disease researchers, and will also seek to use Big Data and advanced proteomics to identify and characterize the proteins found in the skin.

The intent is to create new knowledge and potential treatment therapeutic targets that can help strengthen the immune system to fight against the more than 3,000 known skin diseases.

“Sometimes the immune system fails and attacks our own organism. This can result in autoimmune disease,” explained Prof Niels Ødum, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences who will be leading the center during its initial period. “In order to improve our understanding of disease and create better forms of treatments it is absolutely critical that we learn more about the complex functions of the skin and its cellular and molecular composition. Now, we will be able to speed up our research at the new center and we hope that in time, it will prove highly significant for many people worldwide.”

According to Jesper Mailind, CEO, LEO Foundation, the new research center will help boost an often under-studied field in the life sciences. “At any given time, one in four of us will suffer from a skin disease and at present we are unable to treat many of these diseases in an adequate way. This is why we want to raise the bar in dermatological research. The LEO Foundation supports the best international research in skin diseases and the new center will provide unique opportunities to a better understanding of the skin and its diseases”

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