Ten years ago, scientists confirmed that the immune system plays an important role in psoriasis. This discovery led to a dramatic increase in the development of effective treatments that target the immune system. As scientists continue to pinpoint the immune pathways involved in psoriasis, these will reveal more effective drug therapies and treatments with fewer side effects. A permanent method of psoriasis control is on the horizon, followed by a cure for psoriatic diseases altogether.
Understanding how the body's immune system functions in the development, progression—and possibly the suppression—of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis is a major research focus of the National Psoriasis Foundation.
The goal of Alyssa's Fund is to raise $1 million to support five immunology research projects for a two-year period. At least one grant related to psoriatic arthritis will be supported by this fund.
Alyssa's Fund was developed in honor of 14-year-old Alyssa Krafsur, who suffers from severe psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Alyssa Krafsur was a typical preteen before she developed psoriasis. She excelled at school, had many friends and was involved in activities such as soccer and ballet.
In the spring of sixth grade, Alyssa discovered tiny, itchy patches on her elbows and knees. She was diagnosed with psoriasis, given some cream and sent home. Soon, Alyssa was covered with psoriasis—at times over 50 percent of her body. She spent nights on the floor; the cool tile was the only thing that provided a bit of relief from the burning and itching.
As the lesions appeared, Alyssa's self esteem faded. Though her teachers were supportive, many students didn't understand. They teased her, said she had AIDS and left her to eat lunch alone. Alyssa hid her skin under layers of clothes, despite the heat of her El Paso, Texas hometown.
One afternoon less than a year after her diagnosis, Alyssa tried to get up from her desk and couldn't—her knees hurt too much. She called her mother in tears. Later, she found herself helplessly falling to the ground when walking. It was psoriatic arthritis.
Today, Alyssa has hope. She found a treatment regimen that works for her and is returning to normal. Alyssa is sharing her story with the idea of helping others. Because of her experience with these disabling diseases, she is dedicated to finding a cure for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis through the creation of Alyssa's Fund.