Established in 1996, the British Skin Foundation (BSF) was set up to raise money for research into skin disease and skin cancer. Our mission is to find cures and better treatments for all skin conditions. We receive no statutory funding, so fundraising is crucial to our work and has helped us to give out £15,000,000 in grants to top quality skin research over the past 20 years.
Research into infection and inflammatory mechanisms
The BSF has been influential in supportive outstanding research into inflammatory mechanisms in skin disease, most notably the seminal work into the role of filaggrin in ichthyosis and atopic eczema. The scope of our research programme has extended to other major inflammatory skin diseases. In psoriasis, sponsored research has investigated factors controlling the induction of therapy-induced remission and the mechanisms of drug action. In the bullous disorders, skin viral infections and cutaneous drug allergy, our investigators have examined the role of cell-mediated immunity in the induction of these diseases.
Population genetics and epidemiology
We recognise that studies on populations can contribute much to our knowledge of disease causation and morbidity. Our researchers have been active in this area in a variety of ways. They have investigated the genetic markers for inherited hyperkeratotic skin diseases, studied filaggrin gene mutations in atopic dermatitis, and defined important aspects indicating genetic susceptibility to psoriasis. The role of gut bacteria in the inflammatory skin diseases, notably atopic dermatitis, is a topic of particular current significance.
Cancer treatments and mechanism
The increasing prevalence of skin cancer and the concern of patients for effective treatments are recognised by the BSF through our funding of a full programme of research, spanning both mechanistic and therapeutic themes. BSF-sponsored investigators have highlighted new information on the role of human papilloma viruses in non-melanotic skin cancers and the molecular mechanisms that are involved in the induction of skin tumours. In malignant melanoma, researchers have looked at the role for vitamin D and other factors that are involved in cancer progression, and have been instrumental in the design of new therapeutic approaches to the disease.
Education is key
Although our main aim is to fund research, we also believe it’s important to campaign about important skin matters, in order to both raise awareness of the problems people face and to help to educate the general public. In recent times, we have focused on life and death matters such as melanoma skin cancer, to the dangers of sensitivity to para-phenylenediamine from so-called black henna temporary tattoos.
At the British Skin Foundation we know that skin disease doesn’t just affect the skin. It can have a huge impact on a person’s day-to-day life, crush self-confidence, restrict movement, lead to depression and put a huge strain on families as well as personal relationships. By raising awareness of common skin conditions, we hope to expand the nation’s understanding of skin disease and promote acceptance.
Our latest survey told us that 60% of the UK population have suffered or currently suffer with a skin disease – a stark reminder that our work isn’t over yet.