Biomarkers in atopic dermatitis and psoriasis


Atopic dermatitis and psoriasis are serious skin diseases that affect over 300 million people globally. Atopic dermatitis causes itchy, inflamed skin that can become blistered, while psoriasis is characterised by red, scaly plaques on the skin. For many patients, the treatments available do not work well and the diseases place a huge burden on patients, their families, and healthcare systems.

BIOMAP aims to shed new light on the underlying causes of both diseases, as well as the genetic and environmental factors that influence how a patient’s disease will progress and how well they will respond to a given treatment. They will do this by studying in depth data and samples from 50 000 patients as well as healthy individuals.

Ultimately, BIOMAP hopes to identify new sub-types of the diseases that will allow clinicians and patients to make better, more personalised decisions on treatments. To ensure patients’ views are integrated into the project, BIOMAP has set up a Patient Advisory Group.

Achievements & News

First direct evidence of the influence of food on skin bacteria

A study by IMI project BIOMAP showed that the type - and amount - of food you eat influences the bacteria that live on your skin, as do smoking, education and even time spent outside.###

BIOMAP is working to understand the underlying mechanisms of the skin diseases atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Human skin is teeming with bacteria, an essential element for skin health but also linked to disease when imbalanced. The BIOMAP team set out to investigate any potential links between a person’s physical traits, lifestyle and their environment, with their skin bacteria. To do so, they gathered skin samples from 647 people and profiled their skin bacteria by DNA sequencing. They were able to confirm established links between the skin microbiota and skin microenvironment, age, body mass index and sex. More intriguingly, they found that dietary macronutrients and total dietary energy were associated with several specific bacterium types, as were smoking, alcohol consumption, skin pH, skin type, trans-epidermal water loss, education and certain environmental conditions and lifestyle factors, such as hours spent outdoors.

This expands our current understanding of what influences skin bacterial community and its makeup. The researchers hypothesise that the skin microenvironment, coupled with host physiology, shapes skin bacteria to a greater extent than with a single skin physiological feature, lifestyle and environmental exposure. In other words, no single environmental or behavioural aspect appears to have a major impact. Future clinical research involving skin microbiota, they say, should acknowledge these associations.

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Unprecedented study of inflammatory skin disease data gets underway

Despite a relatively good choice of treatment options for inflammatory skin diseases like psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, finding a drug that definitely works in a given patient is still very much trial and error. The BIOMAP project, which launched in 2019, will carry out the biggest study yet of the molecular drivers of inflammatory skin diseases, with particular focus on psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, in an effort to uncover tell-tale biomarkers that will help predict the course of the disease, and the response to therapy. ###As a first step, BIOMAP is bringing together data from previous and ongoing clinical studies to create a large data platform capable of delivering sound results.

Having spent the first year of the project making sure their data collections adhere to stringent rules governing patient data privacy, the project partners have now started uploading the datasets to their central data platform.

‘The datasets are being harmonised according to what we call our ‘glossary’, so that the nomenclature and phrasing is the same across all cohorts, and that key information is available from all of them,’ says project coordinator Stephan Weidinger of the University Hospital in Kiel, Germany. He gives a simple example to illustrate why this is necessary: ‘It starts with the disease name itself. In some studies, the disease is called ‘atopic dermatitis’, and in other studies, it’s ‘atopic eczema’. And then there are studies where is called just ‘eczema’.’ The diagnostic criteria can also vary from study to study. ‘So, we have to check that and make it clear what criteria has been used and to which degree it is comparable.’

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EFPIA companies
  • Almirall SA, Barcelona, Spain
  • Boehringer Ingelheim Internationalgmbh, Ingelheim, Germany
  • Leo Pharma As, Ballerup, Denmark
  • Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland
  • Pfizer Limited, Sandwich, Kent , United Kingdom
  • Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland GMBH, Frankfurt / Main, Germany
  • UCB Biopharma, Brussels, Belgium
Universities, research organisations, public bodies, non-profit groups
  • Academisch Ziekenhuis Leiden, Leiden, Netherlands
  • Ait Austrian Institute Of Technology GMBH, Wien, Austria
  • Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet Zu Kiel, Kiel, Germany
  • Den Selvejende Institution Dansk Borneastma Center, Gentofte, Denmark
  • Hahn-Schickard-Gesellschaft Fur Angewandte Forschung Ev, Villingen, Germany
  • Heinrich-Heine-Universitaet Duesseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Itä-Suomen yliopisto, Kuopio, Finland
  • Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  • King'S College London, London, United Kingdom
  • Klinikum Rechts Der Isar Der Technischen Universitat Munchen, Muenchen, Germany
  • Kobenhavns Universitet, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • London School Of Hygiene And Tropical Medicine Royal Charter, London, United Kingdom
  • Stichting Amsterdam Umc, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Stichting Radboud Universitair Medisch Centrum, Nijmegen, Netherlands
  • Tampereen Korkeakoulusaatio Sr, Tampere, Finland
  • Tartu Ulikool, Tartu, Estonia
  • Technische Universitaet Muenchen, Muenchen, Germany
  • The University Of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  • Universitaetsklinikum Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
  • Universitaetsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany
  • Universitat Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • Universite Du Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
  • University Of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-sized companies (<€500 m turnover)
  • Eurice European Research And Project Office GMBH, Saarbrücken, Germany
  • Information Technology For Translational Medicine (Ittm) SA, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg

NameEU funding in €
Academisch Ziekenhuis Leiden410 938
Ait Austrian Institute Of Technology GMBH466 711
Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois81 250
Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet Zu Kiel1 478 387
Den Selvejende Institution Dansk Borneastma Center544 119
Eurice European Research And Project Office GMBH666 685
Hahn-Schickard-Gesellschaft Fur Angewandte Forschung Ev149 625
Heinrich-Heine-Universitaet Duesseldorf221 625
Information Technology For Translational Medicine (Ittm) SA460 360
Itä-Suomen yliopisto175 125
Karolinska Institutet599 033
King'S College London1 573 555
Klinikum Rechts Der Isar Der Technischen Universitat Munchen28 530
Kobenhavns Universitet274 500
London School Of Hygiene And Tropical Medicine Royal Charter182 957
Stichting Amsterdam Umc161 875
Stichting Radboud Universitair Medisch Centrum258 500
Tampereen Korkeakoulusaatio Sr415 801
Tartu Ulikool193 500
Technische Universitaet Muenchen185 000
The University Of Edinburgh103 380
Universitaetsklinikum Freiburg347 720
Universitaetsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf63 125
Universitat Wien208 350
Universite Du Luxembourg488 936
University Of Bristol746 636
University Of Dundee (left the project)13 778
Total Cost10 500 001