ANN ARBOR, Mich.Millions of Americans struggling with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are one step closer to a cure with the release of the first National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank DNA samples for use in research at the University of Michigan Health System; research that hopes to uncover the unknowns about the genetics of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
A disabling and disfiguring disease of the immune system that appears on the skin, psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the country, affecting as many as 7.5 million Americans, yet it is one of the most under-researched. Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, a related joint disease.
"Because we will be studying many thousands of genes, and because the genetic differences that predispose people to psoriasis can be subtle, this type of research requires thousands of cases and controls to yield statistically significant results," says James T. Elder, M.D., Ph.D., the Kirk D Wuepper Professor of Molecular Genetic Dermatology. "That's why the large number of Biobank samples is so important."
In the past few years, new discoveries into the hereditary factors of psoriasis have been unveiled. The National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank is a collection of DNA samples and clinical information used by scientists to advance the field of psoriasis genetics--to fill the gap between what is known about psoriasis genetics and what's not.
Elder and his team of researchers received the first 1,250 BioBank DNA samples today. They will use the samples to identify new genes that increase a person's risk factor for developing psoriasis, and examine the connection between psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Additional BioBank DNA samples will be given to Elder in the coming months.
"It's also very important that the diagnosis of psoriasis is definite, especially
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University of Michigan Health System