SKIN DISEASE PSORIASIS is caused by a protein that’s there to protect the body being overactive.
Now, scientists at Trinity College Dublin have developed a way of controlling this protein and it’s hoped it could lead to a breakthrough in treating the condition.
The protein in question is called Interleukin-36 and researchers at TCD’s School of Genetics and Microbiology say it acts as a kind of “intruder alarm in the body”,
switching on when injury and infection damages our tissues, and mobilising all of the forces of the immune system to repair the damage.
This process is of course better known as inflammation. While it is important in keeping us safe, in people with psoriasis it happens almost constantly.
The challenge therefore is to identify what it is that sets Interleukin-36 off.
That has now been achieved by the research team who identified the molecules that convert the protein from its harmless form to its destructive one.
Removing it is akin to “pulling the pin out of a grenade”, according to lead researcher Professor Seamus Martin.
“This discovery is very exciting and we really hope to develop this approach into a new way of treating psoriasis,” he says, adding that the team hope to work with in partnership with pharma or skincare companies to develope treatments using their technique.
The work was carried out at Trinity’s Department of Genetics by a team led by Professor Martin alongside PhD students Conor Henry and Graeme Sullivan.
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