Psoriasis and Gene Therapy-Are We There Yet?
Psoriasis has only recently been considered an autoimmune disease due to the molecular research that has focused on the role of the immune system and specifically T-cells as they relate to the disease. With psoriasis, the T-cells send faulty signals that trigger a reaction in the skin cells. Once activated the T-cells migrate into the dermis, which causes an inflammatory response. It is still unknown what factors contribute to the T-cell activation.
What Is Gene Therapy?
Gene therapy is still in the experimental stages and works on the premise that a healthy copy of a gene can inactivate or replace a mutated, disease causing gene; or that an entirely new gene can help to fight disease. Because the side effects are widely unknown and possibly risky, gene therapy is currently being tested for diseases with no cures. In the future, gene therapy may replace drugs or surgery.
Gene Therapy and Psoriasis
A promising study published in the June 2010 issue of The Journal of Gene Medicine tested transdermally delivering plasmid DNA to mouse skin and found that it had an antipsoriatic effect, that is, it was effective against psoriasis. The researchers concluded that these findings indicate that topical transdermal gene transfer offers potential for patients presenting with dermatologic diseases.
Though the science behind gene therapy is promising for many diseases, including psoriasis, research is still in its infancy and there are many hurdles to overcome before it becomes a practical treatment for any disease.