Apart from aiming at excellence in medical care, the Department of Dermatology at the Tel Aviv Medical Center has set as one of its major goals the integration of clinical and translational research within one unified organizational infrastructure. A number of research programs, mainly focusing on the genetic foundations of skin diseases, are currently running in our laboratory:
Inherited skin diseases: from rare to common disorders
Several teams within the laboratory are actively involved in the study of genetic skin diseases. These disorders are known to be prevalent among Middle Eastern populations, and at this regard, our laboratory is ideally situated to carry research in that field. These efforts have led to the deciphering of the molecular basis of no less than 17 genetic diseases by members of our group over the past decade.
Our current program on Genetic Skin Diseases is axed upon two main topics: (1) we are trying to uncover the molecular basis of inherited skin diseases, including diseases featuring multiple allergies, a high frequency of skin cancer or abnormal development of the subcutaneous fat tissue; (2) we are attempting to exploit our previous findings in this field with the aim to identify new treatments for common diseases. For example, we have found that defective function of a certain enzyme causes a disease characterized by deposition of calcium in the skin. The same complication is very frequent among patients affected with kidney disease, a common ailment. We are currently testing small molecules capable of boosting the activity of this enzyme as a new treatment for kidney disease-associated abnormal calcium deposition.
Psoriasis: how to better treat a common disease.
Psoriasis represents a major source of morbidity in the general population. New treatments are urgently needed, and at the same time, better ways to predict the response to existing therapeutic modalities are desirable in order to prevent unnecessary exposure to their side effects.
Our group is currently actively investigating the therapeutic potential of a molecule recently found by us to regulate epidermal proliferation and differentiation, called IGFBP7. We have recently shown that IGFBP7 is able to cure psoriasis in a mouse model and intend to further develop this approach with the ultimate aim to translate our findings into a novel type of treatment for psoriasis.
Pemphigus, a disorder associated with Jewish ancestry.
Pemphigus is an autoimmune disease manifesting with blistering of the skin and mucosal (lining) tissues such as the oral cavity. Until the advent of corticosteroids, pemphigus was almost inexorably fatal. Still today, approximately 10% of the patients succumb to the disease. Pemphigus is known to be particularly prevalent across most Jewish populations. In addition, it is characterized by a strong genetic background. Using high throughput mapping technologies, we have recently successfully identified genetic variants conferring susceptibility to this dreadful condition. These findings are paving the way for further functional studies of the proteins affected by these variations in the pathogenesis of the disease, as well as assess their potential role as new therapeutic targets
Current research grants
Israel Science Foundation: "IGFBP7: role in the regulation of epidermal development and homeostasis". Investigators: Eli Sprecher and Daniel Aberdam
Israel Cancer Association: "The molecular basis of generalized basaloid follicular hamartoma syndrome". Investigators: Eli Sprecher, Gila Izman, Ofer Sarig
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: " RBM28: comprehensive analysis of its role in human disease ". Investigator: Albrecht Bindereif, Eli Sprecher, Ouri Gat, Moien Kanaan
Israel Science Foundation: "Role of SNAP29 in epidermal differentiation". Investigators: Eli Sprecher and Mia Horowitz
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft: "The role of SNAP29 during epidermal differentiation". Investigator: Steffen Emmert, Eli Sprecher, Mia Horowitz, Michael Schoen
Kamin, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. "Identification of small molecule inducers of IGFBP7 as a novel treatment strategy in psoriasis". Investigator: Eli Sprecher, Ofer Sarig, Janna Nousbeck
E-rare-2: "In vitro and in vivo models of congenital rare skin diseases for molecular characterization and drug screening". Investigators: Hans-Christian Hennies, Daniel Aberdam, Eli Sprecher, Caterina Missero
Joint Weizmann – TASMC Research Grant: "The genetic foundations of pemphigus vulgaris". Investigators: Eli Sprecher, Doron Lancet
National Institute of Health: "Mineralization/anti-mineralization networks in the skin". Investigators: Jouni Uitto, Eli Sprecher