14.11.11 10:20
By: Dr. Patrick Honecker

Europe-wide Research of Skin Diseases

Cologne Geneticists receive Funding from EU

The development of goal-orientated treatment for genetic illnesses in humans presents a huge challenge. This also applies for the treatment of skin diseases, which still raises many questions despite the fact that the skin is the largest and most accessible human organ. At the same time, many new methods in molecular human genetics and genome research have decisively contributed to identifying the causes of many genetic skin diseases.

One of the challenges for the development of innovative therapeutic strategies is the lack of suitable of models for research. The use of three dimensional skin models, which are also suitable for the simulation of skin diseases, offer a very promising new starting point.

The Cologne geneticists working with Dr. Hans Christian Hennies have set up a European network to establish in vitro and in vivo models for rare hereditary skin diseases. In order to use the most authentic in vitro model of patient cells, the scientists involved want to use a technology that reprograms skin cells to produce induced pluripotent stem cells, i.e. stem cells that can develop into every type of cell possible and are available in large amounts.

These cells should, on the one hand, be used to support mechanisms and key proteins for the development of the epidermis, while on the other hand, skin models will be developed using pluripotent stem cells, which can also be used for systematic analyses of substances. Mouse models will also used to check results.

The network “SkinDev” comprises research groups from Germany, France, Italy and Israel and is coordinated by the Dermatology Department of the Cologne Center for Genomics of the University of Cologne. It is one of only 13 networks chosen by the European programme ERA-Net to receive funding for the research of rare diseases. The networks are investigating new treatments for haematological, metabolic, neurological and dermatological illnesses as well as for hereditary congenital disorders. The research programme is financed by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European commission, which comprises research organisations from nine European states.

For queries contact:     

Dr. Hans Christian Hennies,
Cologne Center for Genomics, Department of Dermatology
University of Cologne,
Tel.: +49 (0)221 / 47 89 68 02
Mail: h.hennies(at)


Press Office Contact:

Dr. phil. Patrick Honecker
Mail: patrick.honecker(at)