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15th Jan 2016

Breakthrough discovery at Trinity College offers new hope for psoriasis sufferers

Trine Jensen-Burke

Only those who suffer from psoriasis can tell you how truly devastating and often painful the skin condition can be.

But now a team of scientists right here at Trinity College’s School of Genetics and Microbiology have made a major breakthrough that might very well lead to a new – and much more effective – way of treating the disease.

It has long been knows that psoriasis is caused by an overactive reaction by a certain protein, Interleukin-36.

This protein is in place to protect us and is meant to act as an “intruder alarm”, 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 better knows as “inflammation,” and is important to keep our bodies safe from harm, but in people with psoriasis, this happens so frequent the body is in almost constant “alarm” mode.

The challenge, therefore, according to the scientists, was to try and figure out what sets Interleukin-36 off, and hence starting the inflammation process.

And this is what the clever heads at Trinity now think they might just have found the answer to, having identified the molecules that convert the protein from its harmless form to its destructive one. And removing this molecule is, according to lead researcher Professor Seamus Martin, comparable to “pulling the pin out of a grenade.”

“This discovery is very exciting and we really hope to develop this approach into a new way of treating psoriasis,” Martin explains, adding that the team hope to work with in partnership with pharma or skincare companies to develope treatments using their technique.