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Published on 26 January 2009

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Drug hope for psoriasis sufferers


Sufferers of the auto-immune skin condition psoriasis may benefit from findings that genetic variants might be involved in its development.

Scientists at the University of Michigan School of Public Health say that new research may lead to drugs that target these genes or their associated proteins.

Psoriasis, which causes sore patches of scaly skin – and arthritis in up to a third of patients – is associated with the gene IL-23A, and possibly TNFAIP3 and TNIP1.

The latter two are activated by a key inflammation-signalling molecule while two more, IL4 and IL13, are thought to support the development of one type of immune-system cell.

It is known that a child with two parents who are affected by psoriasis has a 50% chance of developing the condition. More than a million people in the UK suffer from it.

The researchers took DNA samples from 1,359 psoriasis patients and 1,400 healthy volunteers while searching for changes to the genetic code known as single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs.

Dr Goncalo Abecasis said: “Some of the highlighted genes are already targeted by effective psoriasis therapies. Others may become targets for the psoriasis treatments of the future.”

The findings are reported in the journal Nature Genetics.

Copyright Press Association 2009

Nature Genetics

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