National Psoriasis Foundation

National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank

The National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank is a collection of biological samples and clinical information used by qualified scientists to advance the field of psoriasis genetics. It is one of the largest collection of psoriasis DNA samples in the United States, moving scientists closer to understanding the causes of psoriatic diseases, discovering more and better treatments and finding a cure.

The National Psoriasis BioBank is part of the Genetic Alliance BioBank (GA BioBank), a centralized repository for the collection, storage and distribution of biological samples (including DNA, serum, cells and tissues) and clinical data for genetic researchers. The GA BioBank is a nonprofit organization established by seven patient advocacy organizations, including the National Psoriasis Foundation. 

Who was Victor Henschel?

Victor Henschel struggled with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis for more than 35 years. He believed strongly in helping others. This generosity was carried down through his family and, in 2006, the Barbara and Neal Henschel Charitable Foundation pledged a $1 million gift to the National Psoriasis Foundation to be directed solely to the BioBank. It is the Henschel family's hope that the National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank will provide scientists with the resources they need to study the disease and, ultimately, find a cure.

Current Research using DNA from the BioBank

Genes and psoriasis risk

James T. Elder, M.D., Ph.D., professor of molecular genetic dermatology in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Michigan Health System, received with his research team the first 1,250 BioBank DNA samples on Sept. 1, 2010. They are using them to identify new genes that increase a person’s risk for developing psoriasis and also examine the connection between psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s disease.

Genetic research and psoriasis treatments

Although scientists have uncovered links between certain genes and psoriasis susceptibility, there is still much to discover about psoriatic disease and its causes. Anne Bowcock, Ph.D., professor of genetics, pediatrics and internal medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., hopes to gain insight into these genetic elements with the use of 1,250 DNA samples collected from the BioBank.

The role of skin cells in psoriasis

Psoriasis is an inflammatory disease involving many genes and types of cells, including skin and immune cells. Research has established that the immune cells influence the skin cells in a person with psoriasis, Yuangang Liu, Ph.D., research assistant professor of dermatology at Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland, Ore., is studying the role that skin cells play in triggering psoriasis.

Using technology to identify new psoriasis genes

According to Wilson Liao, M.D., medical researchers have identified approximately half of the genes that predispose individuals to developing psoriasis. The assistant professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, is using material from the BioBank to identify the other half using a powerful new technology called next-generation DNA sequencing. Findings from Dr. Liao’s research may uncover new psoriasis biomarkers, which will allow doctors in the future to determine how an individual’s psoriasis will behave and which medications will work best.