5 top psoriatic disease discoveries of 2016

| Samantha Klingman

Learning about the latest research in psoriatic disease can be overwhelming, but staying up to date on your treatment options can help you make more informed health decisions to ultimately take better control of your disease.

With that said, it can sometimes feel like the more you learn about the disease, the more you end up worrying about another comorbidity (a related health condition) or treatment side effect you could experience.

But 2016 was a busy year for research that included plenty of significant advances in treatment options, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals and discoveries that could lead to a brighter future for people living with psoriatic disease.

As we embark on 2017, let’s reflect on five highlights in psoriatic disease research over the past year. Keep in mind there have been many recent discoveries and advancements in psoriatic disease, and this list is by no means all-inclusive of the many novel, innovative and exciting research developments in 2016.

1. New FDA drug approvals expanded treatment options for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

The year started off with a new drug approval for psoriatic arthritis. Cosentyx (secukinumab), made by Novartis, received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis. Learn more about Cosentyx here.

In March 2016, the FDA approved Taltz (ixekizumab), a biologic drug manufactured by Eli Lilly, for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

Taltz had promising results in clinical trials where more than a third of patients had completely clear skin after three months on the treatment. Click here for more information on Taltz.

For the first time, the FDA approved a biologic medication for the treatment of pediatric plaque psoriasis. Enbrel (etanercept), a drug made by Amgen, was one of the earliest biologics on the market since it was first approved for the treatment of psoriasis in adults in 2004.

In November 2016, the FDA approved Enbrel for the treatment of chronic moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in children ages 4 to 17. To learn more about Enbrel’s FDA approval for the treatment of pediatric plaque psoriasis, click here.

New drugs weren’t the only thing getting the FDA’s attention in 2016. People with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis paid the FDA a visit in March for a patient-focused drug development meeting. NPF brought volunteers and others living with psoriatic disease to the meeting, making sure the FDA heard firsthand what people want in a treatment.

The meeting was part of NPF’s ongoing activities that pave the way for new and improved psoriatic disease medicines—and ensure that people with psoriatic disease have access to these medicines. Read about NPF’s trip to the FDA here.

2. Psoriatic disease research got a boost from new funding from the NIH.

Increasing federal funding for psoriatic disease research is one of NPF’s major priorities. NPF staff are constantly pounding the pavement on Capitol Hill, making the case for why it’s so important for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other agencies to help fuel research breakthroughs in psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

In 2016, the NIH awarded a large grant to a top doctor studying psoriatic disease. NPF researcher Dr. Chris Ritchlin won a multimillion-dollar award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help patients with psoriatic arthritis find the right treatment faster.

Ritchlin, a rheumatologist at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, has been studying ‘bone-chomping’ cells called osteoclasts for decades. With help from a 2010 NPF Translational Research Grant, Ritchlin identified a molecule called DC-STAMP that plays an important role in the development of osteoclasts.

In 2016, Ritchlin was granted a five-year $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to learn more about DC-STAMP and how it affects bone loss and inflammation. His research findings could eventually help doctors predict which treatments would work best for each individual patient with psoriatic arthritis.

For detailed information on Dr. Ritchlin’s research and his NIH Award, please click here.

3. New discoveries paved the way for potential topicals of the future.

There are more treatment options for psoriasis than ever before, and 2016 was a big year for new advancements and discoveries that could lead to better treatments. Two researchers who won funding in 2016 are working on novel approaches to topical therapies.

Funded by NPF, a team of researchers at Stanford University in Stanford, California, discovered that a protein called Rac1 may play a big role in psoriatic disease. According to their research, Rac1 drives the interaction between the skin and the immune system that leads to psoriasis, so blocking it in the body could effectively treat the disease.

The Stanford team is currently testing a therapy that could block Rac1 in the skin. To learn more about their research, click here.  

This year also saw an advancement in a topical treatment that works through gene editing. Dr. Amy Paller from Northwestern University in Chicago is working to develop a topical therapy that, when applied to the skin, could prevent one of the major immune system responses that leads to psoriasis.

With NPF funding, Paller now has more resources to bring her topical treatment closer to the clinical trial phase. To learn more about Dr. Amy Paller’s topical therapy, click here.

NPF has awarded more than $15 million in grants and fellowships to date. To read about everyone we funded in 2016, click here.

4. Scientists continued to learn more about the genetic basis of psoriatic disease.

A study found that a specific part of your DNA may help determine whether or not you will go on to develop psoriatic arthritis.

According to the international study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, certain genetic factors might increase your chances of getting psoriatic arthritis. Understanding the effect these genes have on the way the body functions may lead to an earlier treatment and diagnosis for psoriatic arthritis. To learn more about this study, click here.

NPF has played a critical role in the genetic study of psoriatic disease through the National Psoriasis Victor Henschel Biobank, one of the largest samples of psoriatic disease DNA in the United States. Read more about the Biobank here

5. The NPF Medical Board published treatment targets that will make clear skin the new standard of care for psoriasis.

The Treat to Target strategy allows patients and their health care providers to take better control of psoriatic disease by setting specific targets and goals for improved health outcomes.

The goals are designed to reduce the severity of plaque psoriasis so it covers 1 percent or less of a patient’s body within three months after starting a new treatment.

This treatment strategy was published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in November 2016. For more detailed information on Treat to Target, click here.

As we transition into a new year, consider staying up to date on the latest research developments, and don’t forget that the National Psoriasis Foundation’s Patient Navigation Center is here to help and can offer resources and support for living with psoriatic disease.

In 2017, the National Psoriasis Foundation will continue its mission to drive efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected while supporting promising new research for better treatments and a cure. If you are interested in supporting psoriatic disease research, please click here.

Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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