Skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema) and aphthous stomatitis (canker sores) as well as oral mucositis resulting from radiation and chemotherapy treatments often result in dryness, weakening, and inflammation of the epidermis and mucosal epithelium. These conditions can be extremely painful and, in the case of oral mucositis, can drastically impair orofacial function and hinder definitive cancer treatment. Current standard of care for oral mucositis is largely ineffective and consists of improved oral hygiene and mucosal coating agents. This absence of efficacious treatment highlights the need for new medicines that can rejuvenate and strengthen damaged epidermis and oral mucosa to effectively treat and/or prevent these painful conditions.

Through his research efforts, Dr. Burns has discovered that a class of compounds called terpenes, which are found in many common fruits and plants, can promote the rejuvenation of the epidermis. Terpene administration directs patterns of gene expression that support increased keratinocyte proliferation, keratin production, reduced inflammation, and protection from oxidative damage within the stratum corneum and related epidermal structures. Accordingly, terpenes may be used effectively to restore and improve skin and mucosal strength, thickness, and barrier functions in patients with atopic dermatitis or oral mucositis. Furthermore, Dr. Burns has shown that topical or oral administration of terpenes significantly reduced inflammation and damage caused by UV exposure in a mouse model, suggesting that terpenes may additionally be useful as a novel form of sunblock by providing lasting protection against UV radiation thus reducing the risk of skin cancers including melanoma.

Collectively, these findings suggest that terpens represent an important class of compounds with the potential to protect fragile epidermal and mucosal tissue and to treat a wide range of dermatological and mucosal conditions including:

Oral and gastrointestinal mucositis resulting from radiation and chemotherapy treatmentAtopic dermatitis (eczema) Aphthous stomatitis (canker sores)Dry/cracked and dehydrated skin Burns and excessive scarring Erythema and inflammation caused by UV exposure and oxidative damage