NIHR Programme Grant
Setting Priorities and Reducing Uncertainties for the Prevention and Treatment of Skin Disease (SPRUSD)
Skin disease affects about a third of the UK population and it is one of the top four reasons for visiting a GP. Yet there are large gaps in our knowledge about its causes and treatments.
We were awarded a £2 million by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to conduct a 5-year programme of research on the prevention and treatment of skin disease.
The work was co-ordinated through the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, and involved extensive collaboration between researchers, healthcare professionals and patients.
More information about the background, results and impact can be found in the final research report.
What the programme delivered
Our eczema prevention work showed that using skin moisturisers from birth may stop eczema developing. The potential of this important finding will now to be tested in a national trial.
Our eczema treatment work programme summarised and mapped all of the best evidence for treatment, which health care professionals and patients can now use. A lot of the existing evidence is unsuitable for guiding clinical practice. We have tried to put this right by doing bigger and better studies on topics that patients have prioritised.
Similarly, many vitiligo treatment trials were poor quality, and few considered whether a treatment was worthwhile from the patient’s point of view. So we prioritised working with patients and developed better outcome measures, which are being used in a national trial of handheld ultraviolet light devices to treat vitiligo.
Squamous cell skin cancer
A common type of skin cancer is squamous cell skin cancer, which is increasingly common in fair skinned, older people. Surprisingly, we found only one randomised controlled trial, so we focused our efforts on developing a national study to find how best to treat this cancer.
Finally, we completed a national clinical trial on two treatments (oral steroids or ciclosporin) for the rare painful condition pyoderma gangrenosum. Neither of the drugs was very effective, and similar results were seen with strong steroid ointments, which have fewer side effects.
This work has helped us develop interest in skin disease research amongst doctors, scientists and patients.