The National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF) is the leading non-profit funder of psoriatic disease research in the world. In addition to research, NPF advocates for the more than 8 million people in the U.S. who live with psoriatic disease while providing the latest in education and information.
In fiscal year 2023, NPF is projected to fund more than $3.5 million in psoriatic disease research grants and fellowships. NPF has funded many successful psoriatic disease research programs over the years. NPF funding often builds the foundation for investigators to pursue larger federal research grants.
Sam T. Hwang, M.D., Ph.D., Chair and Professor of Dermatology at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, has been investigating the role of chemokines in the pathogenesis of psoriasis in animal models for over a decade. From 2011 to 2021 Dr. Hwang and his collaborator Brian F. Volkman, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry at the Medical College of Wisconsin, received Discovery, Translational, and Bridge grants from NPF to investigate the potential of targeting the CCL20-CCR6 chemokine pathway as a means of treating psoriatic disease.
CCR6 has been shown by Dr. Hwang’s group and others to be highly expressed on human and mouse T-cells that play a key role in producing cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-17 and IL-22 in skin affected by psoriasis. This research led to the utilization of an engineered variant of CCL20 - the ligand for the CCR6 receptor – that showed efficacy for treating both psoriatic dermatitis as well as arthritis in several mouse models.
This research was funded through an NPF Translational Research Grant titled “Translational investigation of a novel, engineered variant of CCL20 as a therapeutic agent for psoriasis.” This led to the founding of a biotech start-up called XLock Biosciences with the goal of exploring the therapeutic potential of the locked CCL20 dimer in psoriatic arthritis (PsA).