Psoriasis Research: Thirty Years of Progress

Last updated: December 2020

If you are a member of the National Psoriasis Foundation you know that one of the benefits is receiving a quarterly magazine called, Advance. In their Fall 2019, issue there was an article entitled "A Brief History of Research Breakthroughs."

This article started with the history of psoriasis. Including how in 1808, Robert Willan, M.D. gave the first accurate description of the condition of psoriasis. Interestingly enough, he was also the founder of dermatology as a medical specialty.

The progression and research for psoriasis

The article also listed that in 1900, coal tar was the only treatment for psoriasis. It also shared that in 1960, psoriatic arthritis was identified as a clinical disease. Then in 1972, methotrexate was approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an additional treatment. Before that time, methotrexate had only been approved as a drug for cancer treatment.

These are all interesting facts indeed. However, the most interesting was the years of research.

An exciting three years

In 1987, Hans-Jurgen Ristow, M.D. was the first to identify IL-1 as the cause of the rapid skin growth that is seen with psoriasis. A year later, Michael Holick, M.D., introduces vitamin D3 as a treatment for psoriasis. Also that same year narrowband UVB phototherapy is introduced as a psoriasis treatment option.

The following year in 1989, Alice Gottlieb, M.D., PhD., along with other associates discovers how IL-6 plays a part in the inflammatory response of psoriasis. A lot of research and progression in just three years!

Seeing the first biologic

Starting in the year 2000, the first psoriasis patient was successfully treated using a new treatment, Anti TNF-Alpha antibodies. In 2001, researchers publish clinical trial results which lead to the FDA approving it as the first biological agent used for the treatment of moderate-to-severe psoriasis.

Multiple studies by researchers were published showing the genetic causes of psoriasis in 2003. 2004 saw the approval for biologic, Enbrel. From that point on several more biologics have been approved based on clinical trials. These biologics include Remicade, Simponi, and Stelara just to name a few.

2006 to 2007 brought about research that proved that cardiovascular disease and other comorbidities are caused by psoriasis. Researchers in 2011 identified gene mutations associated with pustular psoriasis.

The importance of research

Of course, research is ongoing and continues. Each year, the National Psoriasis Foundation awards research grants to different researchers. The NPF is on target this year to allocate upwards of $15 million towards these grants.

That will be the most money to date put toward trying to find a cure. I'm sure I can speak for all of us when I say that we all want a cure for this disease.

No stopping until there is a cure

We know that there is no cure for psoriasis. The bright side is that there are even more treatments approved now than there was when I was first diagnosed. I am grateful for that fact, seeing that I am currently on my fourth biologic. Through research breakthroughs, I know that there will be other treatments available to me should I need them.

However, treatments are only a temporary solution at best. We all want that cure. Will it happen in my lifetime? I sure hope so. Research has brought that chance up significantly in the last few years. Listening to the researchers talk about projects they are currently working on is very interesting.

You can always find out about the new breakthroughs researchers are finding by looking on the NPF website. You will also find the information on becoming a member of the NPF if you are interested in that. Wouldn't it be a wonderful day when a cure is found? It is only through research that a cure is hopefully coming around the bend.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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