Our skin constitutes a formidable barrier between our body and the outside world. It prevents uncontrolled loss of water and keeps chemicals and micro-organisms out. Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF) plays an important role in keeping this barrier intact. This mixture of salts and amino acid derivatives constitutes about 25% of the dry weight of the stratum corneum. NMF derives in large part from the enzymatic breakdown of filaggrin: a key skin protein.

DNA, ProFLG, FLG, NMF LR (2).png

Filaggrin-gene Mutation

Not everybody produces sufficient NMF to keep the skin healthy. About 10 percent of the population is born with an impaired skin barrier, caused by a filaggrin-gene mutation. This mutation results in a low NMF concentration in the skin.

Many children born with such a gene mutation develop Atopic Dermatitis and allergies. One hypothesis regarding causation is increased exposure to environmental allergens.


NMF-Scan is a prototype device for the quick and easy, non-invasive determination of NMF concentration in the skin. In collaboration with hospitals in Ireland, Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands we are exploring several use cases:

  • Identification of newborn babies at increased risk of developing Atopic Dermatitis (AD)
  • Identification of people at risk of developing occupation-related skin conditions
  • Stratification of AD patients to enable personalized disease management and treatment


In vivo Raman spectroscopy discriminates between FLG loss-of-function carriers vs wild-type in day 1-4 neonates
C. ni Chaoimh, et al.

Ann Aller Asthma Immunol; 124:500-504 (2020)

Natural moisturizing factor as a clinical marker in atopic dermatitis
A.E.M. Nouwen, et al.

Allergy; 75:188-239 (2020)

Raman Profiles of the Stratum Corneum Define 3 Filaggrin Genotype-Determined Atopic Dermatitis Endophenotypes
G.M. O'Regan, et al.

J. Allergy Clin Immunol; 236:574-580 (2010)

Natural moisturizing factor as a biomarker for filaggrin mutation status in a multi‐ethnic paediatric atopic dermatitis cohort
M.M.F. van Mierlo, et al.