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U-M scientists identify major psoriasis susceptibility gene

University of Michigan scientists have found a common genetic variation in an immune system gene that makes people much more likely to develop psoriasis ?a disfiguring inflammatory skin disease.

Named PSORS1 (SORE-ESS-1), for psoriasis susceptibility 1, the gene is the first genetic determinant of psoriasis to be definitively identified in a large clinical study. Its discovery could lead to new, more effective treatments for psoriasis without the risks and side-effects of current therapies.

The gene's causative role in psoriasis was demonstrated in a University of Michigan Medical School study of 2,723 people from 678 families in which at least one family member had the disease.

Results of the U-M study ?the most comprehensive analysis of a psoriasis gene to date ?will be published in the May 2006 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Psoriasis is a chronic disease that affects about 2 percent of the U.S. population. People with psoriasis develop thick, flaky white patches on their skin and scalp. The disease is disfiguring and can have a negative effect on quality of life. About 25 percent of people with psoriasis eventually develop psoriatic arthritis, which can be severe.

Unlike diseases caused by a mutation in just one gene, psoriasis is what scientists call a multi-factorial disease. This means that people must inherit several disease-related genes, plus be exposed to one or more environmental triggers, in order to get psoriasis.

"For every individual with psoriasis who carries the PSORS1 gene, there are 10 other people with the gene who don't get psoriasis," says study director James T. Elder, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of dermatology and of radiation oncology in the U-M Medical School and the Ann Arbor VA Healthcare System.

"It's as if you are pushing a shopping cart down the aisle at the grocery store and putting genes in your cart," Elder adds. "There are several different brands of each gen
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Source:University of Michigan Health System


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