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Compromised skin barrier function plays a role in psorasis development

Researchers at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and the Anhui Medical University, China, have identified genes that play an important role in the development of psoriasis, a common chronic skin disease.

The research, led by GIS Human Genetics Group Leader and Associate Prof. Liu Jianjun, will be published online on 25 Jan. 2009 in the journal Nature Genetics.

Studying genetic variants in the human genomes of a large cohort of patients with psorasis and healthy controls in the Chinese population, Dr. Liu and his colleagues, who are one of the three independent teams that have been simultaneously performing genetic studies on psoriasis, found that a genetic variant within what is known as the LCE gene cluster is able to provide protection against the development of psoriasis.

One of the LCE genes' functions is to code proteins that are part of cells located in the outermost layers of skin. These proteins are important for maintaining skin's barrier function.

"Together with the findings from the other two studies," said Dr Liu, "our finding suggests that compromised skin barrier function play a role in the development of psoriasis. This is a very important find, as it advances our understanding of the genetic basis of psoriasis, which in turn is important for early diagnosis and prediction of an individual's risk to the disease."

While Dr Liu's team focused on a Chinese population, the other two studies were conducted on Western populations. Dr Liu added, "Our team's work is also important because it is the first study ever done on a Chinese population all other studies on psoriasis so far have focused on western populations."

All three independent studies will be published by Nature Genetics at the same time.

Psoriasis is a common chronic, auto-immune and hyper-proliferative skin disease, usually characterized by red scaly patches on the skin. Affecting about one percent of individuals, it is a recurring condition with varying degrees of severity from minor localised patches to complete body coverage.


Contact: Cathy Yarbrough
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore

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