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Dermatology research in the North East and North Cumbria improves treatment and services for people in our region

We oversee research that deals with diseases that affect the skin, hair and nails. There are between two and three thousand recognised conditions in dermatology, and it is estimated that about half of the population in the UK are affected by at least one of these conditions each year. In addition, dermatology has medical, paediatric and surgical aspects, so most dermatologists are surgeons, as well as physicians. As a result we support a wide range of research studies; this could be anything from acne, athlete’s foot and eczema, to psoriasis, shingles and skin cancer.

We support and promote research in the following areas:

  •  Common chronic skin diseases such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis
  •  Skin cancers including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma
  •  Skin infections such as herpes simplex, warts, impetigo and fungal infections like athlete’s foot
  •  Skin disorders where genetics plays a major role
  •  Rare skin diseases

 We also take the lead on research studies relating to wounds such as venous ulcers and pressure ulcers.

Skin problems are also one of the commonest reasons for people to visit their general practitioner, so it is a very important issue in primary care. In addition, many dermatologists lead the organisation and delivery of skin cancer services, treating approximately three-quarters of all skin cancers. Understandably then, within the dermatology research portfolio there are considerable overlaps with other specialty areas. Where this occurs, we work closely with our colleagues from across the Network to deliver high quality dermatology research.

The Dermatology Specialty Group is led by Professor Nick Reynolds, University of Newcastle, recognised as one of the leading academic dermatology departments in the UK. Membership of the Specialty Group comprises research active dermatologists from all Trust within the region delivering dermatology services.

Clinical trials in dermatology

One of our main strengths of dermatology research in the North East and North Cumbria has been the interaction between clinical investigation and laboratory science. This has resulted in research discoveries being translated into improvements in patient care.

Our clinical and non-clinical researchers are based in the Institute of Cellular Medicine and the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University.

We will soon have a list of all the studies currently underway in the North East and North Cumbria on this page. To find out more about current dermatology studies here and across the country you can view a list on the NIHR Clinical Research Network Portfolio Database.

Partnership working

Because the skin acts as a barrier to the outside world, we work closely with colleagues and partners to understand the skin’s responses to environmental signals. This includes drugs, chemicals, foreign antigens and ultraviolet radiation). You can get more details on the Newcastle Biomedicine website .


Treatments for atopic eczema – Ultraviolet B (UVB)

Around 2% of adults in the UK have ‘atopic eczema’, with approximately 15% of them having moderate-to-severe eczema that usually lasts for a prolonged time. The treatment options for patients with refractory atopic eczema that isn’t adequately controlled by creams and ointments, are limited.

Our research team led a trial of 69 adult patients with moderate-to-severe atopic eczema. The trial compared different forms of ultraviolet treatment (delivered through special cabinets in the dermatology department). Patients attended twice a week for 12 weeks. ‘Narrowband ultraviolet B’ was compared to ‘broadband ultraviolet A’ light (as used in commercial sunbeds), and visible-light. It was the first randomised controlled trial of narrowband UVB phototherapy for atopic eczema, and its results were published in the Lancet . Narrowband UVB was demonstrated to be an effective treatment for atopic eczema. The benefits were maintained for several months after the therapy ended, and this type of treatment has been adopted into widespread clinical practice across the UK. This work has also been incorporated into national and international guidelines on the management of atopic eczema.


Ultraviolet B treatment is not suitable or convenient for all patients. Dr Meggitt and Prof Reynolds therefore led a regional trial of a systemic (tablet) treatment with azathioprine, in adult patients with moderate-to-severe atopic eczema. It was the first ‘parallel-group randomised controlled’ trial of azathioprine for atopic eczema, and the first trial for a dermatological condition where dosing was tailored to patients based on the ability of their body to use the drug. The results were published in the Lancet . The drug significantly improved symptoms in patients and disease activity reduced by more than one third in the drug-treated group. Improvements in disease activity were matched by improvements in patients’ symptoms and quality of life scores. This research has had widespread impact across the NHS for the benefit of patients. Azathioprine has been adopted widely in the UK as a treatment for refractory atopic eczema, and is now the most popular choice of drug in tablet form. This research has also been incorporated into national and international treatment guidelines for atopic eczema.

Meet the Team

Professor Nick Reynolds

Leading dermatology academic and Honorary Consultant Dermatologist, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust consultant

Dr Shyamal Wahie

Consultant dermatologist at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust and Associate Clinical Lecturer at Newcastle University

Clinical Trials in Dermatology

Select a trial from the list below to find out more about what it’s all about and how you can get involved in helping others.

Hand Eczema Phototherapy Study

This study aims to compare two types of phototherapy for patients with hand eczema.

Topical kinase inhibition therapy for cutaneous cylindromas

This project aims to evaluate the ability of a new ointment to treat an inherited skin tumour condition.

Alcohol and Skin Diseases

Modifying the drinking behaviour of patients in a meaningful way.

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