Aiming high to prevent psoriatic disease

| Chris Paoli

The National Psoriasis Foundation is excited to kick off its latest, ambitious research grant– the Psoriasis Prevention Initiative (PPI). Announced in July as part of the organization’s current five-year strategic plan, PPI aims to invest $6.5 million to prevent the onset of psoriatic disease, relapse and/or related comorbidities. 

According to Randy Beranek, NPF president and CEO, this latest research initiative is the most ambitious project the organization has ever taken on. “The Psoriasis Prevention Initiative is the biggest research initiative we’ve embarked on by a factor of five,” says Beranek. 

NPF is hoping to accomplish these lofty goals by establishing a multi-institution, multi-disciplinary, team-based research network who will collaborate to find a way to prevent the onset of psoriatic disease, disease relapse and/or disease related comorbidities. Due to the latest advancements in technology and scientific breakthroughs, the initiative is positioned to accelerate the work over the five-year timeframe. 

“There are new scientific technologies that allow for precise characterization and alternation of genetics and the immune landscape such as CRISPR DNA editing and single cell RNA-sequencing of the skin,” states the PPI summary. “With these new technologies and new cellular therapeutic strategies, there is a better understanding of psoriatic disease heterogeneity, potential biomarkers and cellular antigens.”  

The collaborative approach to unraveling the complex questions surrounding disease prevention takes inspiration from similar efforts taken by those studying HIV and cancer and is closely modeled off the NIH Accelerating Medicines Partnership venture, which teams up public and private entities to find new treatments and cures for Alzheimer’s disease, lupus and type 2 diabetes. 

This team-based approach is relatively new and has a lot of merit in the field of medical research, says rheumatologist Christopher Ritchlin, M.D. MPH, who is a member of the PPI Steering Committee. “It has to do with the evolution of research over the last 20 or so years. Because of the complexity of the science, you need teams with different expertise to come together to use different technologies and approaches to answer important medical questions.” Ritchlin is also the chief of the department of medicine, allergy/immunology and rheumatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. 

And the important medical questions that the PPI will look to address is how to significantly increase the quality of life for patients. “The success of PPI means we have prevented some of the adverse outcomes associated with psoriatic disease, whether it would be the development of a comorbidity, such as arthritis or the onset of psoriasis,” says Ritchlin. “The ability to decrease the burden on the patient community would be a major win.”

Currently, the initiative is just launching and the NPF is seeking research proposals for the first stage of funding that look to: 

  • Create and support collaborations among clinical researchers.
  • Outline a multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary virtual team research approach.
  • Explain how the team approach will have a high likelihood of leading to an intervention for psoriatic disease, relapse and its related comorbidities.

The initiative was developed in partnership with the PPI Steering Committee, made up of members of the NPF Scientific Advisory Committee, NPF Medical Board, NPF Board of Directors, bench and translational researchers, clinical advisors and patient constituents. 

Letters of intent will be due on Dec. 13, 2019, with invited full proposals due in April of next year. NPF is looking to award two $250,000 grants for the first year, with the most successful grant awarding up to $1.5 million for the following four years.

Be a part of the Psoriasis Prevention Initiative

If you or your colleague would be interested in learning more about the Psoriasis Prevention Initiative, email [email protected]. If you would like to support this innovative and important research initiative, consider making a donation.  


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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