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Scientists in Singapore find cause of skin disorder

Uncommon gene mutation identified; work published in journal this month

Published on Oct 30, 2012 6:00 AM

Scientists in Singapore have helped to identify an uncommon gene mutation which causes thick patches of skin to appear on the palms and soles of patients.

As the patients age, more of these very thick and rough skin patches appear on their hands and feet, and the patches often join to form larger lesions. In severe cases, the lesions can be painful and debilitating.

The disease, called punctate palmoplantar keratoderma (punctate PPK), is related to the more severe skin disorder suffered by Indonesian "Tree Man" Dede Koswara, who has areas of skin resembling tree bark.

There is no cure for punctate PPK, although some patients have been successfully treated with a drug called acitretin.

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Background story

In Singapore, some forms of PPK affect about 25 families, according to records from the National Skin Centre and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's Institute of Medical Biology (IMB).