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Our Healthy Lives Mission
Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health Advances Field of Skincare for Cancer Patients

During oncology treatment, patients’ skin requires special care. Products such as Aveeno® Restorative Skin Therapy can help patients of all skin types avoid severe cutaneous adverse reactions, so they can focus on life-saving therapies.

When Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health set out its Healthy Lives Mission last year, the company committed to addressing complex, preventable health issues — namely, eradicating smoking and preventable skin cancers — by collaborating on initiatives both inside and outside the company.

One area the company has been investigating is the need for tailored skincare for people with highly sensitized skin — including cancer patients. Taking advantage of the ability to partner with oncology experts at its pharmaceutical division, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a team pioneered research to study the skin damage that may occur in people who are undergoing systemic cancer treatments.

Personal and professional connections

The study resulted from a conversation at a 2017 drug delivery conference. Georgios Stamatas, PhD — a research associate director and fellow on the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health team — recognized the name of a speaker, Mario Monshouwer, PhD from Janssen Research & Development, and connected with him. The two bonded over shared experiences of family members impacted by cancer and discussed its dramatic impact on quality of life.

From their personal and professional experiences, it was clear that — while the ultimate goal when treating cancer is to save lives, certain treatments can affect surrounding tissue and create skin, gut and urinary problems. In some cases, the appearance of skin rashes during treatment actually correlates with higher patient survival rates.

First-of-its-kind study

The result is a first-of-its-kind scientific study published in BMC Cancer, which uncovered how certain oncology therapies negatively affect the skin barrier. Skin-related side effects are frequent: 45 to 100 percent of cancer patients experience symptoms of impaired skin barrier function — including skin inflammation, infection and dryness. Importantly, this new study found that certain classes of oncology drugs can have a direct effect on the formation of the skin barrier; an abnormal skin barrier can be the reason for the observed cutaneous adverse reactions.

During oncology therapy, patients’ skin requires special care to preserve its proper barrier function and decrease adverse reactions. Scientists used several unique methods to demonstrate the effects of oncology therapy on the skin barrier. By understanding the interconnection between the kinase inhibitor therapies used in oncology treatment and skin health, it becomes possible to test strategies to support skin health during and after treatments, so patients can focus on life-saving therapies. In further research using phosphoproteomic and transcriptomic analyses, the team discovered the actual molecular pathways in skin cells that are affected by certain kinase inhibitors. These pathways are involving processes linked to skin barrier formation, inflammation and oxidative stress. The results of these investigations were published this month in JID Innovations.

The emerging field of skincare for cancer patients

The team conducted research to understand which ingredients and products could potentially be used prophylactically to help reduce side effects and treatment interruption. These results influenced another study from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health on the impact of the Aveeno® Restorative Skin Therapy regimen for patients undergoing systemic oncology treatments, which were recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.

The study found that Aveeno Restorative Skin Therapy provides “significant” improvement of quality of life for cancer patients’ skin and itch relief.

"Cancer patients undergoing treatment frequently report negative, skin-related side effects such as xerosis and pruritus — or dry skin and itch; yet, there are few studies evaluating potential remedies," Stamatas said. "Our deep knowledge of the therapeutic benefits of oat led us to believe the Aveeno daily skincare regimen can help replenish the skin barrier in cancer patients who experience xerosis and pruritus due to systemic oncological treatment.”

Aveeno® Restorative Skin Therapy

Aveeno Restorative Skin Therapy was developed with cancer patients’ unique skincare needs in mind. The product regimen was clinically tested in partnership with leading oncodermatologist, Dr. Mario Lacouture, PhD. The gentle formulations are free of fragrances, parabens, sulphates and dyes; and 91 percent of study participants reported an improvement in dry skin within three weeks of using the Aveeno Restorative Skin Therapy regimen.

The regimen consists of three products: Oat Repairing Cream, Sulphate-Free Body Wash and Itch Relief Balm. The products harness properties of naturally derived ingredients such as oat — a powerful antioxidant known to moisturize and soothe dry skin, aloe — which is known to soothe skin, and Pro-Vitamin B5 — which helps to heal dry skin.

Social mission

These studies reflect Johnson & Johnson’s unique position as one of a few consumer companies with the ability to conduct research with its own pharmaceutical or medical device colleagues.

“Through this work, we hope to improve the quality of life of patients during therapy by identifying ways to avoid severe cutaneous adverse drug reactions that can alter or even halt recommended treatment therapy, so patients can focus on life-saving therapies,” said Caroline Tillett, Global Head of R&D at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health.

The company remains committed to advancing the understanding of the impact of cancer therapies on skin health and sensitive skin; and developing practical solutions to help people of all skin types protect their skin, continue their therapy and live healthy lives.

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