Molecule CD1a may be the key to preventing contact dermatitis

Updated: May 27


Professional Beauty UK reports that scientists are exploring whether itchy rash contact dermatitis could be prevented from developing on the skin.


Amanda Pauley writes: “Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center are investigating whether the condition could be stopped by applying competing lipids to the skin that displace those triggering the immune reaction.


“Contact dermatitis occurs when the immune system’s T cells recognise a chemical as foreign, however, the research team has found that a chemical reaction with larger proteins needs to take place in order to be picked up by the T cells.”


The scientists believe that CD1a – a molecule found on Langerhans cells, residing on the basal and suprabasal layers of the epidermis – could be the catalyst for making foreign chemicals visible to T cells. Their research shows that several common chemicals known to trigger allergic contact dermatitis were unable to bind to CD1a molecules, such as benxyl benxoate and benzyl cinnamate, found in Balsam of Peru and farnesol. From previous studies, they know the identity of several lipids that can bind to CD1a but won’t activate T cells.


Other research collated from sources including the Happiness Research Institute, Galderma and the British Medical Journal, Eczema Society of Canada and the British Journal of Dermatology, shows the extent of the negative impact a skin condition can have on patient’s mental health and quality of life.

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