Dr Willem Visser, Head of Dermatology, Stellenbosch University has been awarded the L’Oréal African Hair & Skin research grant for his research on Acne keloidalis nuchae (AKN). The award is open to all dermatologists and African PhD students specialising in the science of skin and hair.
Acne keloidalis nuchae (AKN) is a skin and hair condition that predominantly affects males with afro-textured hair and patients of African or mixed descent. AKN affects the nape of the neck and produces pustules, results in permanent hair loss and large areas of scarring. AKN may also affect areas beyond the nape of the neck. Dr. Visser’s study aims to investigate the earliest manifestations of its spread. The descriptive study’s objective is to describe the dermatoscopic and histopathological features of sub-clinical or early acne keloidalis nuchae.
For patients or men in the community who are concerned about this disorder, the study aims to empower dermatologists to identify early markers of disease. For patients who are already diagnosed with AKN and in the care of a dermatologist, this study will aim to provide clinical tools to assess further spread of the disease. According to Dr Visser “If this disease is diagnosed early on, treatment may be initiated sooner and the distress associated with this disorder may be significantly lessened.”
The grant supports a one-year research project in Sub-Saharan Africa and the winner receives an amount of 10 000 Euros. The research grant aims to promote clinical and basic research on ethnic skin and hair physiology conducted by African scientists in Africa.
“L’Oreal’s Research & Innovation team is passionate about information sharing and ongoing research when it comes to hair and skin. Our recently inaugurated Research & Innovation Center in Johannesburg will collaborate with the African scientific ecosystem, universities, dermatologists, natural biodiversity centers as well as hairdressers,” explains Dr Michele Verschoore, Medical Director, L’Oreal Research & Innovation.
Focus areas for the research projects includes: Skin immunology; Skin photobiology; Wound healing; Skin color, skin pigmentation; Skin barrier function, Stratum Corneum; Skin neurophysiology/itch sensitive skin/heat sensation; Skin aging; Skin tissue engineering; Sebaceous physiology and oily skin epidemiology; Hair characterization; Biology of hair growth; Hair pigmentation; Hair loss
The jury is made up of seven African and two international experts with the necessary expertise in their respective areas. Jury member and renowned dermatologist, Professor Ncoza Dlova from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal described the research as “Relevant, practical, important and innovative.’’