For the 7.5 million Americans suffering from psoriasis, scientists are devising a new approach to treat the disorder, which causes itchy, scaly patches on the skin. Researchers in Linköping University are targeting a specific protein that exists in psoraiac skin, but generally not in normal skin.
Psoriasis develops when cells divide rapidly and blood vessels grow deep within the skin. When the scientists were able to restrain the psoriasin protein, it also slowed the development of a vascular endothelial growth factor, which, along with oxygen free radicals, causes the faster cell division and blood vessel growth that leads to psoriasis symptoms.
“We want to examine the ability of psoriasin as a target for therapy. By inhibiting psoriasin, we believe we can reduce vascular formation and thus the proliferation of the disease’s magnitude and intensity,” research team leader and associate professor Charlotta Enerbäck told ScienceDaily.
Psoriasis typically appears between the ages of 15 and 25, and among the millions of people who have psoriasis, a quarter of the cases are considered moderate to severe, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.
This new approach to treating the disease is hopeful because the protein is generally isolated to psoriasis-affected cells (it is also believed to play a role in breast cancer). Limiting the protein alone shouldn’t have an effect on the surrounding cells, therefore fewer, if any, side effects. Currently, treatments include topical medication, light therapy, oral medication and injections, which can limit the bouts of psoriasis, but not cure it.
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