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Scientists discover new areas of DNA linked to psoriasis

Gene mapping uncovers genetic variations that increase risk of psoriasis

In an international collaboration, scientists identified 15 new areas in our DNA, known as loci, which are associated with the development of psoriasis. Using a new research tool called an Immunochip, the group, including National Psoriasis Foundation-funded scientists Dr. James Elder of the University of Michigan and geneticist Anne Bowcock of Washington University in St. Louis, reanalyzed samples from previous genetic studies to identify variations in the genes that may increase psoriasis susceptibility.

This new technology allows researchers to provide a more detailed map of the genes than previously was possible, making it feasible to understand why some people are more likely to develop psoriasis than others, and to suggest targets for new and better treatments.

The research, published in Nature Genetics, expanded on several genome-wide association studies—large studies that compare DNA from people with a disease and those without a disease to see if genetic variations are associated with the disease—by using DNA collected from the National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank and other sources. The discovery increased the total number of genes believed to be involved in psoriasis to 36. While significant, these genes account for only 22 percent of people's psoriasis risk, so much more research is needed to find all the genes involved in psoriatic diseases.

Additionally, the investigators found that these new areas of DNA involved in psoriasis also overlap with those reported in Crohn's disease and celiac disease, both of which occur in higher frequencies in people with psoriasis. The similarities in these variations may explain the connection between these autoimmune diseases.

Many of the genetic variations discovered in this study play a role in the way the body's immune system responds, providing new insight into the complex development of psoriasis and other immune-related diseases. Further efforts into understanding the immune system response could lead to the development of promising new treatments for psoriasis.

Learn more about the role of genetics in psoriasis »

Help contribute to additional genetic studies through the Victor Henschel BioBank »