Gene Discovery Offers New Hope for People Living with Psoriasis

Dr. Chelisa Cardinez (pictured) says the discovery finally provides an explanation for why patients with psoriasis may go on to develop psoriatic arthritis, leaving them with joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. (Photo: Jamie Kidston/ANU)

Scientists from The Australian National University (ANU) have discovered that a gene mutation is responsible for causing psoriasis – a chronic inflammatory skin disease that causes patients to develop red, scaly, and itchy patches across their body. According to ANU researcher Dr Chelisa Cardinez, if two copies of this mutated gene [known as IKBKB (inhibitor of nuclear factor kappa B kinase subunit beta)] are present, patients with psoriasis may go on to develop psoriatic arthritis, leaving them with joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. Thanks to the world-first discovery from ANU, scientists now know what causes the progression from a skin-only disease to a skin and joint disease. It’s hoped the findings will lead to improved diagnosis and treatment for patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – conditions that patients say carry stigma in the community. “Using a mouse model, we identified that this mutation led to an abnormal function in a group of immune cells known as regulatory T cells,” Dr Cardinez, from the ANU John Curtin School of Medical Research (JCSMR), said.

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