Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Discovery may hold hope for psoriasis sufferers

28.06.2005


Scientists at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, studying the effects of a drug used in the treatment of a distressing skin condition, have found that it is actually killing off the cells which are the cause of the problem.

The team believe the discovery represents a major step towards enabling the design of better treatments for psoriasis, which affects up to a million people in the UK alone (figures from the Psoriasis Association).

The results of the Wellcome Trust-funded study of the drug, dithranol, are published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB).



Dithranol, which is widely used in the treatment of psoriasis, is derived from a natural compound, called chrysarobin. Chrysarobin is prepared from the araroba tree found in the rain forests of the Amazon. In India, the same substance is known as Goa powder.

Psoriasis is a genetic condition which, when triggered by certain factors such as injury or throat infection, leads to an over-production of skin cells - called keratinocytes - which causes a thickening of the skin, resulting in the raised red, scaly patches characteristic of psoriasis.

The team of scientists, led by Professor Nick Reynolds and Dr Mark Birch-Machin, of the Skin and Environmental Interactions Research Group in the School of Clinical and Laboratory Sciences at Newcastle University, studied the effects of dithranol – an ointment applied to the surface of the skin – which is used in the treatment of severe cases of psoriasis.

Professor Reynolds says: ’Psoriasis is what is known as a relapsing/remitting condition, which means that sufferers don’t display the symptoms all of the time. Dithranol is a very effective treatment for episodes of psoriasis and it has been around for a long time, since the early 1900s. By studying the action of the drug, we wanted to gain a better understanding of how it works, to give us an insight into the mechanism of the condition.’

Laboratory studies showed that dithranol very quickly targeted skin cells’ mitochondria – the part of a cell from which it draws its energy – causing the cells to die within 24 – 48 hours of the application of the drug, through a process of programmed cell death.

Professor Reynolds continued: ’Although dithranol is a very effective and safe treatment for psoriasis, its widespread use is limited because it is quite difficult to use and causes dark brown stains on clothing and bedding. Also, if it is not used properly, it can cause irritation or burning to the skin around the affected area, so it is most commonly used in hospitals, where the application of the ointment can be overseen by a nurse.’

Most people suffering an episode of psoriasis that requires treatment with dithranol therefore have either to attend hospital as an outpatient five days a week for a six week course of treatment, or be admitted for a three-week period.

’In modern life, this is far from ideal’, says Professor Reynolds. ’These findings represent an important step towards the development of better-designed treatments for psoriasis sufferers’.

Gladys Edwards, Chief Executive of the Psoriasis Association said: ’The Psoriasis Association welcomes these new research findings. It is so important to develop new, effective and safe treatments for psoriasis and this research is clearly a positive step forward’.

PSORIASIS FACTFILE (information from the Psoriasis Association)

Psoriasis is a recurrent skin condition caused by an acceleration of the usual replacement processes of the skin. Normally a skin cell matures in 21 to 28 days during its passage to the surface where a constant invisible shedding of dead cells, as scales, takes place. Psoriatic cells, however, are believed to turn over in two to three days and in such profusion that even live cells reach the surface and accumulate with the dead cells in layers. Psoriasis affects both sexes equally. It may appear for the first time at any age, although it is more likely to appear between the ages of 11 and 45.

Psoriasis appears as raised red patches of skin covered with silvery scales. It can occur on any part of the body although elbows, knees and the scalp are usual sites.

Certain genes have been identified as being linked to psoriasis. It appears, however, that a genetic tendency needs to be triggered off by such things as injury, throat infection, certain drugs and physical and emotional stress. Research is under way into all aspects of the causes of psoriasis.

There are a variety of topical treatments available i.e. creams and ointments that are applied to the skin. When used properly they can be most effective and have minimal side effects.

Melanie Reed | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ncl.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New malaria analysis method reveals disease severity in minutes
14.08.2017 | University of British Columbia

nachricht New type of blood cells work as indicators of autoimmunity
14.08.2017 | Instituto de Medicina Molecular

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>