Case Western gets $1.9M grant for psoriasis research

April 8, 2013

A dermatology researcher from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, has been awarded $1.9 million to conduct studies related to psoriasis.

 

A dermatology researcher from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, has been awarded $1.9 million to conduct studies related to psoriasis.

READ: Researchers isolate psoriasis triggering proteins 

Nicole Ward, Ph.D., assistant professor of dermatology, will use the five-year federal grant to study whether interleukin-17C (IL-17C), a protein responsible for regulating the immune system, plays a role in the onset and progression of psoriasis, according to a news release.

The grant, from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, will allow Dr. Ward to build upon earlier research she has conducted on a potential relationship between IL-17C and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha).

Dr. Ward and colleagues earlier this year reported that patients with psoriasis have elevated levels of IL-17C in their skin. The study, published in the Journal of Immunology, noted that after treatment with TNF-alpha inhibitors, IL-17C levels dropped quickly, even before the skin visibly improved. The findings suggested the presence or interaction of IL-17C and TNF-alpha is crucial for the disease’s pathogenesis.

READ: Psoriasis researcher examines nervous system’s role in perpetuating disease

The study also revealed that mice that were genetically engineered to overproduce IL-17C in the skin developed spontaneous lesions resembling human psoriasis, according to the university. Dr. Ward “now hopes to identify how IL-17C synergizes with other inflammatory molecules to cause disease,” which could allow for the identification of new targets for drug development, the university stated.

Dr. Ward’s research is also supported by the National Psoriasis Foundation and the Murdough Family Center for Psoriasis, as well as additional grants from the National Institutes of Health.