Psoriasis sufferers can tell you that it’s a complicated and vicious disease. For people with plaque psoriasis, the most common form, they have to contend with much more than the skin lesions, which often crack and bleed after they form. They also have to live with the other challenges that go along with the disease, and for some of those—approximately 30% of all people with plaque psoriasis—a painful form of arthritis is one of those challenges.
Improved treatment methods have the potential to greatly improve the lives of these psoriasis patients. For many years, genetics was thought to play an important role in the formation of the disease. Many medical specialists and psoriasis sufferers alike have known that genetics may hold the key to advanced treatment methods.
Finally, there’s promising news on that front.
Two papers published in the May issue of “The American Journal of Human Genetics” report the results of a study conducted by the Washington University School of Study in St. Louis. Researchers there have identified a gene mutation that is directly linked to plaque psoriasis, which affects the vast majority of psoriasis patients. According to their study, plaque psoriasis and the arthritis that sometimes accompanies it may be associated with a mutation in the CARD14 gene. Until recently, such mutations were virtually impossible to find. Fortunately, recent advancements in DNA technology have made it possible to locate these genetic mutations.
Researchers also found increased gene activity in the upper layers of the skin of patients with CARD14 mutation. This elevated activity could be related to the physical appearance of the skin during a psoriasis outbreak.
And there’s more news.
Although for many years researchers and medical professionals have placed the majority of the blame for the disease on an overactive immune system, this new study shows that it’s actually defects in the skin that are more to blame, with the immune system playing a secondary role.
In one surprising portion of the study, researchers discovered the CARD14 mutation in a young girl with pustular psoriasis, but (and here’s the surprising part) neither of the girl’s parents had psoriasis or the gene mutation. Apparently, the CARD14 mutation alone can bring on psoriasis after a triggering event, such as an infection or injury, strep throat, a bug bite or a cut to the skin.
So what does all this mean for psoriasis sufferers?
Put very simply, it may be very good news indeed! Now that researchers understand the underlying cause of the disease, it will be much easier to identify new and improved treatments. For the estimated 7.5 million people in the U.S. who are afflicted with the disease, and the approximately 125 million people worldwide who have to deal with psoriasis day in and day out, this study holds a tremendous amount of promise. While there may not be a cure in sight, this impressive genetic research may in fact hold the key to a better quality of life for psoriasis patients in this country and around the world.
Roxanne Jones writes for Laser Studio, a medical spa in Austin run by Dr. Sarosh Saleemi who offers services including laser skin resurfacing, botox, and personalized hCG diet programs. You can contact Dr. Saleemi at Laser Studio, 11111 Research Boulevard #370B, Austin, TX 78759, Phone: (512) 337-2466.