The Weill Cornell Medicine Department of Dermatology supports clinical research activities and faculty initiatives as an important avenue for the development of new therapies for the care of our patients.
Dr. Richard Granstein studies the immunobiology of Langerhans cells, dendritic antigen-presenting cells in the lower portion of the epidermis that play a key role in immune responses within the skin. His Langerhans cell research revolves around:
- The role of Langerhans cells in tumor immune response.
- Cytokine regulation of Langerhans cell antigen presentation.
- Neuropeptide regulation of Langerhans cell function.
Novel Nail Disease Treatment
Dr. Shari Lipner's research focuses on nail disorders, particularly fungal diseases including onychomycosis. Onychomycosis is the fungal infection of the nail plate by dermatophytes, yeasts and nondermatophyte molds - a common problem with a prevalence of 10-12 percent in the United States. While some patients display very mild, asymptomatic cases of onychomycosis not requiring treatment, many display advanced cases with pain and discomfort, secondary infection, unattractive appearance or problems performing everyday functions. Treatment is challenging due to low cure rates as well as high relapse and recurrence rates. In addition, many patients are reluctant to accept oral therapy due to side effects and interactions with their other medications. Accordingly, alternative and novel onychomycosis therapies are greatly needed.
Dr. Lipner currently explores the use of plasma therapy for onychomycosis treatment. Plasma was shown to be fungicidal to T. rubrum in an in vitro model, and Dr. Lipner is currently conducting a clinical trial to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of plasma in human subjects with onychomycosis.
Fundamental Signaling Pathways for Cellular Skin Growth
Dr. Jonathan Zippin studies the fundamental signaling pathways responsible for normal skin function. One signaling pathway known to play a key role in cellular growth in all mammalian cells is the cAMP pathway. Dr. Zippin’s team studies a novel source of cAMP in mammalian cells called soluble Adenylyl Cyclase (sAC). Investigation of this enzyme has proven useful for understanding the pathogenesis of disease in organs including the pancreas, kidney, brain, lung and testes. Dr. Zippin's current research includes:
- The role of cAMP in normal and pathologic functioning of keratinocytes and melanocytes.
- The role of cAMP in normal cutaneous immunity.
- The use of markers for soluble adenylyl cyclase as a potential diagnostic for cancer.