The causes and treatment of inflammatory skin disease

Kilian Eyerich is researching the causes and driving forces behind chronic inflammatory skin diseases, as well as new ways of treating them. An important part of his work is proposing a new classification of diagnoses in the field based on modern science.

Kilian Eyerich, portrait.

What are you researching?

“I am researching chronic inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis – a group of diseases that affects a large number of people, and in severe cases, can have a profoundly negative impact on people’s quality of life. Among the hundreds of diagnoses in this field, many were established more than a century ago, and the classification no longer corresponds to our knowledge of what actually happens to the skin and the immune system. My research is about resolving that conflict by developing a modern classification for chronic inflammatory skin diseases based on their molecular characteristics. Updating this ‘map’ will benefit both researchers and medical professionals.”

How are you researching this topic?

“We are operating along the whole chain – from basic research on molecular mechanisms through preclinical tests using cell cultures, or artificial skin, to patient treatment studies. One of the milestones was when we compared psoriasis and atopic dermatitis in the same patient. This allowed us to show how the complex interactions between the skin and the immune system can simultaneously generate two distinctly different diseases in the same patient – just a few centimeters apart.”

What do you hope to achieve in the long term?

“Primarily that more patients will receive effective treatment. The first step in that development is to broad- en the use of existing medicines for multiple diagnoses. We believe that there is a lot of untapped potential there, and the better we understand how different diagnoses are related, the greater our chances of realising that potential. At some point, I hope that we will be able to contribute both to new forms of treatment and to more individualised treatment through precision medicine. I also believe that once we’ve mapped out all the mechanisms that cause the diseases to emerge, we may be able to develop new cures that simply do not exist today.”

Text: Anders Nilsson, in translation from Swedish.
First published in From Cell to Society 2019

Kilian Eyerich

Professor of Dermatology and Venereology at the Department of Medicine, Solna

Killian Eyerich was born in 1979 in Freiburg, Germany. He studied medicine at the University of Würzburg and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) School of Medicine, where he received his medical degree in 2007 and doctorate in 2010. Between 2007 and 2008, he held a postdoctoral appointment at Instituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata in Rome, Italy. He was appointed professor at TUM in 2014.

As a clinician, Kilian Eyerich specialises in dermatology and venereology (2012), allergology (2013) and laboratory diagnostics (2015). As part of his move to KI, he has also become a senior consultant at Karolinska University Hospital.

Kilian Eyerich was appointed Professor of Dermatology and Venereology at Karolinska Institutet on 1 August 2019.