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Crab shell pyjamas on trial in eczema treatment test

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 02:51

Feb. 21 - A Portuguese scientific team has developed special pyjamas using a smart material derived from crab shells that they say can actively treat the symptoms of eczema. Jim Drury reports.

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Jesper Anderson suffers from eczema, a debilitating, painful skin condition. 95 per cent of cases occur in children under five, but some like Jesper suffer for life. He's hoping for long term relief by participating in a clinical trial of specially developed cotton pyjamas infused with a medicine that University of Porto allergist Dr Cristina Lopez believes can help him. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ALLERGIST AND HEAD RESEARCHER AT PORTO UNIVERSITY'S FACULTY OF MEDICINE, DOCTOR CRISTINA LOPES, SAYING: "We know the treatment, the usual treatment - the standard - is based on creams and some drugs that help alleviate the symptoms. But if we could give patients another complementary tool to diminish the symptoms, it would be very good because it's (pyjama) not invasive and has no side effects. And if they can use it during the night, that is often the period when they are the worst, it would be very good." The key to the treatment comes from the humble crab. The crustacean's shell is comprised of a compound called Chitosan, a natural antibacterial used in medical treatments for burns and surgical wounds. Now, Dr Lopes and scientists from technology institute CeNTI, are incorporating the crab-shell compound into smart materials for the pyjamas they say will alleviate eczema symptoms. Carla Silva is chief researcher for functional materials at CeNTI and helped develop the pyjamas. SOUNDBITE (English) CeNTI RESEARCHER, CARLA SILVA, SAYING: "When people are having a crisis of atopic dermatitis, they have excessive growth of one bacteria specifically: Staphylococcus aureus, which grows faster than is usual. And with this product, this excessive growth is inhibited. So it helps maintaining the normal flora of the skin, and helps in maintaining the barrier - the skin barrier - which is normally affected in people that are having this disease." Atopic dermatitis is an inflammatory type of eczema, causing burning, itching, and oozing skin lesions. Sufferers run an increased risk of developing rhinitis inside their nose, as well as asthma. Jesper is one of 70 sufferers being tested while wearing the pyjamas over a two-month period at Porto University and he says, he's happy to participate. SOUNDBITE (English) SUFFERER OF ATOPIC DERMATITIS, JESPER ANDERSEN, SAYING: "It's a very non-invasive trial, it's not like it's testing out any drug, really. It's a trial where you try on a pyjama and you sleep in a pyjama and see if it does anything better. I mean, throughout my life I have tried many different things so anything that has a chance of working, I will give it a go." In initial studies, the pyjamas proved effective in reducing bacterial proliferation. If the second test is successful CeNTI hopes to market the pyjamas directly to consumers. Used in combination with existing cream-based treatments, the company believes its smart pyjamas will provide relief to eczema sufferers world-wide. Jim Drury, Reuters

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Crab shell pyjamas on trial in eczema treatment test

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 02:51