National Psoriasis Foundation awards eight Discovery Grants for pilot research
$400,000 awarded to projects with great potential to
Eight scientists studying psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis each received a one-year, $50,000 Discovery Grant from the National Psoriasis Foundation for early-stage research that aims to advance treatments for these diseases. The grants are also intended to help initiate research for additional long-term funding from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies. The 2012 Discovery Grant recipients and their projects are:
- Francesca Capon, Ph.D., of Kings College in London, leveraged a new technology called next generation sequencing to discover a novel gene linked to pustular psoriasis. This gene, called IL36RN, is thought to regulate immune responses that trigger pustular psoriasis. She will use this technique to uncover additional pustular psoriasis genes, leading to to a new understanding of this disease and targets for new therapies.
- Adam Glick, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, developed a new model of psoriasis that more closely replicates the human disease. In this model, a type of immune cell called Tc17 plays a critical role in causing skin inflammation. He will use this model to more fully characterize Tc17 cells in hope of identifying pathways that slow or stop these cells in their tracks. Strategies for stopping these cells could be used for new psoriasis treatments.
- Sudha Kumari, Ph.D., of NYU Langone Medical Center and School of Medicine in New York City, hopes to clarify the mechanism of action of a drug known as AEB071, which could be a promising novel therapy for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. This information is critical for establishing long-term safety and efficacy for use in humans.
- Michelle Lowes, M.B., B.S., Ph.D., of Rockefeller University in New York City, will examine the CARD14 gene mutations recently linked to plaque psoriasis by fellow researcher Anne Bowcock and further characterize their role in the development of disease. These findings will lead to additional knowledge of CARD14’s effects on skin cells and their role in initiating psoriatic lesions, as well as lead to new treatments.
- Lisa Mandl, M.D., M.P.H., of Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, will study psoriatic arthritis (PsA) patients after joint replacement surgery and compare these patients to those with regular osteoarthritis. Mandl hopes to determine if PsA patients have increased risk of infections or need surgery sooner, among other factors. Since almost no data exists on joint replacements in PsA patients, this study will provide critical evidence to help patients and their doctors make informed decisions.
- Carlo Pincelli, M.D., Ph.D., of University de Modena & Reggio Emilia in Modena, Italy, will investigate the response of skin cells to inflammatory signals in psoriasis. He will use a technique called expression profiling to document molecular changes that occur in different skin cells to determine the precise pathways leading to psoriasis. This should lead to a better understanding of the disease and identify targets for new therapies.
- Nicole Ward, Ph.D., of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, will test the hypothesis that IL-17C, an immune signal linked to inflammation, promotes psoriasis by binding to receptors on blood vessels and prompting them to produce disease-causing factors. This is an understudied but potentially important pathway that could yield exciting new information about the cause of psoriasis.
- In addition, the A. Marilyn Sime Discovery Grant, named to recognize Dr. Sime's generous commitment to psoriatic disease research, was awarded to Alexis Ogdie, M.D.,of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, to support her studies on psoriatic arthritis. Ogdie will use whole body PET/CT imaging to locate inflammation in psoriatic arthritis (PsA) patients. These results could identify the cause of comorbidities, such as heart and liver disease, and lead to faster diagnosis and treatment for PsA.
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May 14, 2012