Two international teams of researchers have made significant gains in understanding the genetic basis of psoriasis, a chronic skin condition that can be debilitating in some patients. Their research, involving thousands of patients, is reported in two studies published this week in the advance online Nature Genetics.
"Taken together, the studies help us get closer to realizing the promise of personalized medicine," says a senior author of both papers, Anne Bowcock, Ph.D., professor of genetics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "Eventually, we hope to be able target treatments to psoriasis patients based on the genetic alterations that have contributed to their disease."
The researchers found a number of new genetic variants that affect an individual's risk of psoriasis. Their discoveries point to different biological pathways that underlie the disease and may eventually lead to targeted drugs and treatments that hit specific pathways, Bowcock says.
An estimated 7 million Americans have psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's immune cells mistakenly attack the skin. The condition is usually characterized by red, scaly skin patches that can be itchy, painful or both. Some 10 to 30 percent of patients with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, which occurs when inflammation attacks the joints, causing pain and disability.
Both of the new studies looked for common variants in the genomes of psoriasis patients to uncover associations with the disease.
The first study, conducted in collaboration with the University of Michigan, the University of Utah and colleagues in Canada and Europe, focused on sites within the genome where a single unit of DNA is changed, called a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). The researchers scanned nearly 450,000 SNPs in each of the genomes of 1,409 psoriasis patients and compared the DNA variations to those in 1,436 healthy controls.<
|Contact: Caroline Arbanas|
Washington University School of Medicine