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Study finds new genetic links to psoriasis

25 October 2010
Appeared in BioNews 581

An international research team has published data from a group of studies, which have uncovered new genetic variants associated with the autoimmune disease, psoriasis.

Psoriasis affects approximately two to three percent of the European population and is caused when the body's immune system signals the skin cells to divide at a higher rate than normal. The most common form of the disease, psoriasis vulgaris, causes scaly, itchy patches of skin to form, which are often uncomfortable and can be painful.

One of the published studies, conducted by scientists from the Genetic Analysis of Psoriasis Consortium and the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium Two performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on individuals with psoriasis and a control group free from the condition, looking for small genetic variations known as SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms).

They uncovered eight regions not previously identified with psoriasis, including seven regions known to contain genes linked with immune function. Six of these were confirmed by an earlier European study that analysed the genomes of over 9,000 people.

The scientists also discovered evidence of a strong interaction between two independent genetic regions, HLA-C and ERAP1 associated with the condition, which - when linked in this way - are thought to greatly increase the risk of developing the disease.      

Professor Richard Trembath from King’s College, London who co-led the study said: 'Through our research, and other studies now coming through, the research community have identified genes that play a role in people's susceptibility to the condition'.

At present, treatment options for psoriasis are limited and complex, but experts hope that this new information may provide new leads for the development of better treatment for psoriasis and related disorders.

Dr James Elder of the University of Michigan Health System who leads a related American study said: 'The goal is to guide the pharmaceutical companies toward a better understanding about which cells are working and which ones are causing trouble so that medicines can be made to stop the trouble'.

The results were reported across five papers published in the journal Nature Genetics.

1 February 2009 - by Ben Jones 
Three different studies on genetic factors that may contribute to causing psoriasis have identified a number of new specific genetic targets for research. The studies, performed in the US by the University of Michigan; in China and Singapore by the Genome Institute of Singapore and the Anhui...
17 November 2003 - by BioNews 
Scientists have identified a common genetic defect underlying psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), all of which are autoimmune disorders. Three different genes, all of which are controlled by the same protein 'switch', called Runx1, appear to be involved. The findings, reported in the journal Nature Genetics last...
25 October 1999 - by BioNews 
The pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Wellcome announced that it is is close to identifying the human genes that make some people more susceptible to three common illnesses - migraine, adult-onset diabetes and psoriasis. A new approach to gene sequencing called single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mapping located the predisposition genes far quicker than...
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