The group are interested in the primary events leading to photoimmunosuppression, particularly how energy from ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is translated into chemical signals in the skin that then suppress cell-mediated immune responses.

We are working on the epidermal chromophore, urocanic acid, that photoisomerises to an immunosuppressant form (cis-UCA) on exposure to UVB radiation. By studying subjects with the inherited genetic condition histidinaemia, who lack UCA, we are determining the importance of this molecule in skin immune system responses to UVR.

These findings are relevant to the aetiology of skin cancers and photosensitive skin conditions and also mechanisms underlying successful phototherapy of inflammatory skin conditions.