Nov 15, 2017 by Larry Morgan
You may have heard about psoriasis on those TV drug advertisements they play too often – or, you may have heard of it because you have it. It’s a common condition, especially amongst seniors, and can severely impact one’s quality of life.
Researchers know that genes are involved, but which genes and to what extent? Here are the highlights of new research on the topic:
To begin, let’s define the condition and go over some stats. Psoriasis is assumed to be an autoimmune disease that can be triggered by anything from stress to cold weather. Essentially, the body produces skin cells faster than needed, causing buildup.
The typical symptom of the condition is dry, scaly rashes that build up on various parts of the body, mostly on the skin but sometimes on the nail beds. It can also affect your joints, and the resulting arthritis is correspondingly called psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriasis has many forms and severities. In mild cases, the rashes may be hardly noticeable and painless, but in severe cases, the rash can cover large portions of the body and be extremely painful.
You cannot get psoriasis from someone who has it – you develop it on your own based on your genes.
It is classified as a chronic condition, which means that the person will never be truly cured from it – they will alternate between flare-ups and remission, where the disease seems to go away for a bit of time.
The likelihood of developing psoriasis increases with age, and it can make day-to-day tasks burdensome and painful for seniors. It is estimated that about 7.5 million Americans have the condition.
Other skin conditions are known to be passed down from generation to generation, and researchers are seeing if psoriasis acts in the same manner.
The process of figuring out which genes are at play in psoriasis is difficult. Scientists first have to pinpoint a suspected gene, see how it functions in a healthy person without psoriasis, and then how it acts differently in the affected person. So far, around 25 different genes have been linked to psoriasis in this way. They are all primarily related to the immune system.
Additionally, recent studies have shown that about 10% of the population inherits at least one of these genes, which may make them more likely to develop psoriasis.
As it turns out, only a small fraction of these 10% do. Why is it so?
The condition may be dependent on the right combination of genes. Environmental factors also play a role, as someone living in an environment with very few triggers for psoriasis may not develop it at all.
Finding out how psoriasis is passed on generationally may be the key to prevent it from developing, or at least finding a cure for it through gene therapy. Who knows – within the next few years, psoriasis may be totally preventable, and those that have it may be able to live pain-free lives once again.