March 06, 2016
2 min read

AAD plenary session includes genetics, itch, skin cancer and HIV/AIDS

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WASHINGTON — A wide range of topics, including chronic itch, genetics related to skin diseases, identification of a skin oncogene and the possible end of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, were presented at Sunday’s plenary session at the American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting.

“We’re in an age that’s rapidly advancing in terms of the development of technology that’s supporting our increased understanding of making the diagnosis and how to move forward with therapy,” Amy S. Paller, MD, the Walter J. Hamlin professor and chair of the department of dermatology of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, told

Amy S. Paller, MD

Amy S. Paller

“That means, in time, we may be taking small biopsies to use this technology and getting a lot of data back; it’s going to help our patients move toward personalized therapy, [which] is more likely to be more specific, something they’re more responsive to, and with smaller side effects.”

Paller’s talk included how understanding the underlying genetic bases of disease could be helpful to physicians.

Gil Yosipovitch, MD, who leads the Temple Itch Center, discussed chronic itch, or itch that lasts at least 6 weeks. This condition affects 13.5% of the population and accounts for 17 million or 1% of office visits to physicians.

Gil Yosipovitch, MD

Gil Yosipovitch

“Chronic itch becomes its own disease,” Yosipovitch said during the presentation.

“There are treatments that target the neural system,” Yosipovitch told “There is a message of hope in terms of an armamentarium of reducing that noisy nerve.”

Paul A. Khavari, MD, PhD, looked at the pathogenesis of skin cancer, including the discovery of a sunlight-specific oncogene.

“We, for the first time have identified an oncogene that is a skin oncogene,” Mark Lebwohl, MD, outgoing AAD president, told, about Khavari’s presentation. “That [research] was phenomenal.”

Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the NIH, talked about “Ending the HIV/AIDS Pandemic: An Achievable Goal.”

He said it was appropriate to report his findings to a group of dermatologists because more than 90% of individuals with HIV/AIDS had some form of dermatological disease.

Fauci reported that with current treatments and a comprehensive AIDS prevention program, in the short term, the trajectory of the pandemic can be turned around.

“If we want a durable end to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, we are also going to need superimposed on that a vaccine,” he said. “It is not inappropriate to say that ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic in our lifetime, is in fact, a feasible goal,” Fauci concluded.

“Tony Fauci really showed us what we can do today, but why we still need to work toward a vaccine,” Lebwohl said. “There are so many tools that we have today to prevent the transmission of AIDS and turn this disease around.” – by Bruce Thiel


P151. Plenary Session. Presented at: American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting; March 4-8, 2016; Washington, DC.