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Weill Cornell Medical College’s Department of Dermatology strongly supports clinical research activities and initiatives by its faculty as an important avenue for the development of new therapies for the care of our patients. Current projects involve studies on:
- The immunobiology of Langerhans cells
- Fundamental signaling pathways responsible for cellular growth in the skin
- Novel treatments for nail diseases
Dr. Granstein conducts studies on the immunobiology of Langerhans cells. Langerhans cells (LC) are dendritic antigen-presenting cells that reside in the lower portion of the epidermis that have a key role in immune responses within the skin. His studies center on several aspects of LC function:
- The role of Langerhans cells in tumor immune responses.
- Regulation of Langerhans cell antigen presentation by cytokines.
- Regulation of Langerhans cell function by neuropeptides.
Dr. Shari Lipner's research interest centers on nail disorders, including fungal diseases such as onychomycosis. Onychomycosis is the fungal infection of the nail plate by dermatophytes, yeasts, and nondermatophyte molds and is a common problem with a prevalence of 10-12% in the United States. While some patients may have very mild, asymptomatic cases of onychomycosis and do not inquire about treatment, many will have more advanced cases and present with pain and discomfort, secondary infection, unattractive appearance, or problems performing everyday functions. Treatment is challenging due to low cure rates and high rates of relapse and recurrence. In addition, many patients are reluctant to take oral therapy due to side effects and interactions with their other medications. Therefore, there is a great need for alternative and novel therapies for onychomycosis.
Dr. Lipner is interseted in using plasma therapy for the treatment for onychomycosis. 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.
Dr. Zippin is interested in the fundamental signaling pathways responsible for normal function in the skin. One signaling pathway known to have 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 diseases in organs such as the pancreas, kidney, brain, lung, and testes. Dr. Zippin is currently exploring:
- 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