Current studies using DNA from the
National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank

The National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank, started by the National Psoriasis Foundation in 2006, is a collection of DNA samples and clinical information used by scientists to advance the field of psoriasis genetics.

The first-ever release of BioBank DNA samples in 2010 brings millions of Americans struggling with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis one step closer to a cure. Scientists will use the samples for research that hopes to uncover the unknowns about the genetics of psoriatic disease and its causes.

Current Research Using National Psoriasis BioBank Samples

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.