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National Psoriasis Foundation awards record number in Translational Research Grants

$1.2 million given to study psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis

Six scientists on the forefront of psoriatic disease research each received a two-year, $200,000 Translational Research Grant from the National Psoriasis Foundation. The grants, totaling $1.2 million, support projects that move laboratory or clinical discoveries into work that benefits patients.

  • Anne Bowcock, Ph.D., of Washington University in St. Louis, believes that mutations in the Card14 gene play an important role in developing psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. She will test this hypothesis by developing a genetically altered mouse strain that expresses the mutant gene. This new model has the potential to enhance our understanding of psoriatic diseases and may lead to new treatments with better efficacy and safety than those currently available.
  • Johann Gudjonsson, M.D., Ph.D., of University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, will use RNA sequencing to create a high resolution map of the key inflammatory pathways leading to psoriasis. Knowledge gained from this project may help scientists predict the course of disease and response to treatment.
  • Alan Menter, M.D., of Baylor University Research Institute in Dallas, Texas, will examine the effects of different treatments for psoriasis on cardiovascular disease risk. To do this, Menter will measure changes in gene expression and the balance of different white blood cells that are thought to be associated with cardiovascular risk.
  • Eniko Sonkoly, M.D., Ph.D., of Karolinska Institute in Sweden, will explore whether a cell regulator called micro RNA 125b—which is decreased in psoriasis skin—has a role in the over production of skin cells. If proven to be true, this regulator would be an interesting target for a novel therapeutic approach for psoriasis.
  • Jun Yan, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky, had determined that a novel immune cell—called a gamma deltaT cell—play a critical role in development of psoriasis by producing a large amount of the inflammation inducing factor IL-17. Yan hopes to regulate these immune cells and determine how blocking their pathway decreases skin inflammation. This information could lead to new strategy for treating psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
  • Additionally, Sam Hwang, M.D., Ph.D., of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, received the Lutto Translational Grant, named to recognize a bequest from Seymour and Rebecca Lutto, in memory of their son Lawrence Lutto. Hwang will study whether cell membrane proteins CCR6 and CCL20 are involved in psoriasis by modeling the binding sites within these molecules and testing potential drugs that might inhibit them. This study may lead to the identification of new drugs that not only treat psoriasis, but other diseases that rely on the CCR6/CCl20 pathway.

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May 15, 2012

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