Psoriasis researchers identify a lineup of suspect proteins behind disease progression

The recent approval of Novartis' ($NVS) Cosentyx marks the first in a whole new lineup of psoriasis drugs coming into the market. But there's still no cure and only a hazy understanding of the root causes of psoriasis. But scientists at Case Western Reserve say they've identified four proteins that they believe may contribute to the disease.

First, the team of researchers narrowed the field of possible suspects to 1,280 proteins. Then, using tissue samples from normal and transgenic mouse models of the disease, they hunted for the handful of proteins that were differentially regulated and confirmed their presence in the autoimmune skin disease.

That led them to four targets: Serpinb3b, KLK6, Stefin A1 and Slc25a5 proteins.

"We were interested in looking for the increased presence of these proteins, not just in the psoriasis-like skin inflammation of the mouse, but more importantly, we needed to know how the increased presence of these proteins translated to human psoriasis," said Nicole Ward, an associate professor of dermatology and neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "So we took the information we discovered in the mouse model and went back to the patients and confirmed the increase in these proteins in their lesional psoriasis skin tissue. We are really focused on, and enthusiastic about, our ability to perform successfully translational bench-to-bedside-and-back-again psoriasis research here at CWRU School of Medicine Department of Dermatology and the Murdough Family Center for Psoriasis at University Hospitals Case Medical Center. It's what we excel at and what we love to do."

The next step in this project will be to identify the role each of these proteins plays in relation to the progress of the disease. And from there, they could identify a clear prospect for drug developers.

"We are always looking for novel targets or new insight into disease progression, remission or susceptibility," Ward said. "It's all about the patients. Even though what we are doing at the bench seems focused on mouse, the ultimate goal is to improve patient care and quality of life for patients."

- here's the release