FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                       

Lisa Breuning

The Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types Awards $75,000 Grant to Dr. Amy Paller
Paller and Team to Research Abnormal Proteins Found in Epidermolytic Ichthyosis

COLMAR, PA (November 29, 2012) – The Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types, Inc® (FIRST) is announcing that it is awarding Dr. Amy Paller, the  Walter J. Hamlin Professor and Chair of Dermatology and Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, a grant for $75,000 as part of its 2012 Research Grant Program. 

The grant will support Dr. Paller’s project, entitled “Topical Delivery of Keratin10-Mutation-Specific siRNA-Gold Nanoparticles for Epidermolytic Ichthyosis (EI)”.  Epidermolytic Ichthyosis (EI) is a rare form of ichthyosis that involves the clumping of keratin filaments.  People affected with EI typically have generalized redness, as well as thick, dark scales near joints as well as fragile skin that blisters easily.  According to FIRST, the condition affects 1 in about every 100,000 births.

The blistering and thickening of skin seen in EI usually results in a change in a single letter of the DNA code (a mutation) in one copy of the gene that provides the codes for manufacture of a keratin protein in the upper layers of skin.   Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are small pieces of genetic material that can identify DNA pieces and bind to them, preventing the gene from being translated into protein.  The problem with siRNA has been getting it through the skin barrier to where it needs to go. 

“Dr.  Paller and her team have found a way to get the siRNAs through the skin, through nanotechnology,” said Jean Pickford, Executive Director of FIRST.  “This grant will allow further research for Dr. Paller’s team to deliver an siRNA that specifically recognizes the common mutation of EI, R156H, with the intent to turn down production of the abnormal protein, while maintaining production of the normal protein. “

The grant is part of FIRST’s Research Grant Program which was established in 2006, which is designed to promote and strengthen investigation into the causes, treatments, and potential cures for ichthyosis.   Although the proposed studies are still in the early stages, the potential is great.

“The results of this project have many potential benefits for individuals with EI, as well as others suffering from ichthyotic conditions,” added Pickford.   “We’re very excited and very much looking forward to the findings.”

According to FIRST, each year, more than 16,000 babies are born with some form of ichthyosis.  This disease affects people of all ages, races and gender. The disease usually presents at birth, or within the first year, and continues to affect the patient throughout their lifetime. 

About the Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types, Inc.®
The Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types, Inc.® (FIRST) is the only nonprofit foundation in the United States dedicated to families affected by the rare skin disorder ichthyosis.  FIRST provides information via printed publications, on our website,, and a quarterly newsletter, Ichthyosis Focus, sent to its 2,000 members.  For more information, call toll-free at 1.800.545.3286 or visit



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