Characterising the role of antigen presenting cells in alopecia areata Alopecia UK funds invested: £9,925 When: October 2019 Project type: Research Project Lead: Dr Kevin McElwee & Dr Andrei Mardaryev Length of project: 12 months Research Institute: Centre for Skin Sciences, University of Bradford Condition of interest: Alopecia Areata Funds being used for: Research Assistant (staff costs), laboratory supplies, tissue biopsies. Research question: Do Antigen presenting cells (APCs) play a significant role in the development of Alopecia Areata? Justification for research project: Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune hair loss condition that affects men, women and children. It is caused by inflammatory lymphocyte cells inappropriately targeting hair follicles and disrupting their ability to grow hair. What stimulates the lymphocyte cells and promotes the inflammation is not clear, but the group believe that “antigen presenting cells” (APCs) are a key part of the mechanism that induces the start of AA. Prior research shows that APCs in patients with AA have higher levels of cell receptors that would make them better able to stimulate lymphocytes. In a disease model, the group have shown that it was possible to block signalling from APCs, which prevented AA onset. Who is leading the project: The project will be managed by Dr Andrei Mardaryev. Dr Mardaryev lectures in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Centre for Skin Sciences (Bradford). Currently, his major research focuses are: delineating the role of epigenetic factors in the regulation of epidermal regeneration and hair follicle growth. Dr Mardaryev will be working alongside a team of researchers, based at the University of Bradford, as well as other research laboratories and clinical groups. The project will also benefit from the support of Professor Kevin McElwee. Professor McElwee has been studying inflammatory hair loss including alopecia areata, scarring alopecia and hormone-related hair loss (pattern baldness) since 1996. His research attempts to understand how the hair follicles develop and interact with the skin and the immune system. Outcomes: Professor McElwee has recently published a review of alopecia areata, which you can find here.