[652] Research in Biochemical Dermatology

The aim of this team is the research in biochemical dermatology in order to develop new therapeutical agents. The main subjects are the following:

(1) Retinoids and rexinoids: These molecules modulate gene expression via their binding to the nuclear receptors RAR and RXR, respectively, which interact between them and recognize specific DNA sequences. By using selective agonists and/or antagonists to these receptors, it would be possible to produce various biological responses of therapeutic interest without causing the side effects characteristic of the endogenous agonists used up to now as therapeutic agents.

(2) Photobiology: Throughout the life, the skin is subjected to a moderate exposure to solar radiations, with isolated episodes of acute exposures. The effects of long-term exposure (photoageing) are thus distinguished from those induced by acute exposure (sunburns, solar allergy). The study of the interactions between non ionizing radiations and living matter will improve our knowledge in photodermatology and will pave the way for new applications in phototherapy.

(3) Skin ageing: The term "dermatoporosis" has been introduced to highlight the need to take into consideration the premature ageing of the skin, which affects many people after the age of 60, and goes far beyond simple aesthetic issues. In fact, people who suffer from it have thinned, fragile skin, which is easily torn and scarred with difficulty. It is therefore important to understand the mechanisms of this process and develop preventive treatments.

(4) Pigmentation: The control of pigmentation is far from being only an esthetical question. Several skin conditions are characterised by hyper/hypopigmented areas, which cause serious psychological problems to patients. It is thus important to understand the biochemical mechanisms of melanogenesis and skin pigmentation in order to develop safe and efficient skin lightening agents.

(5) Xenobiotics: The skin is continuously in contact with exogenous natural and synthetic substances (xenobiotics) present in the atmosphere. Various xenobiotics are able to activate biochemical pathways. In particular, polyhalogenated hydrocarbons can activate biochemical pathways in the absence of their endogenous messengers. A complete understanding of the biochemistry of xenobiotics will allow the development of pharmacological tools of therapeutical interest.