Immune System Malfunction
While the causes of psoriasis are not fully understood, it is widely accepted to be connected to an immune system malfunction with T-cells and neutrophils in the body3. T-cells normally travel through the body defending against bad cells and bacteria. With psoriasis, these T-cells attack healthy skin cells in error.
Overactive T-cells also promote increased production of healthy skin cells and neutrophils. These then travel through the layers of skin and cause redness and pustular lesions. This process becomes an ongoing cycle, pushing stem cells to the outermost layer of skin too quickly. This is what causes the skin to build up into thick, scaly patches.
What treatments are currently available?
There are three main treatment types available to psoriasis sufferers. These are topical treatments, light therapy and systemic medications.
Topical treatments include topical corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, anthralin, topical retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, salicylic acid, coal tar and moisturisers.
Light Therapy treatment uses various forms of natural and artificial light, either alone or in combination with medications. Forms of light therapy include sunlight, UVB phototherapy, narrow band UVB phototherapy, Goekeman therapy, Psoralen plus UVA (PUVA) and excimer laser.
Severe or resistant psoriasis may require systemic medications to treat and control symptoms. These can be both oral and injected. They include retinoids, methotrexate, cyclosporine and biologics.
The Impact of Psoriasis
A 2016 WHO Global Report4 on psoriasis indicates that more than 100 million people worldwide are impacted. The same report highlights the fact that the number of people who are suffering could be reduced if access to early diagnosis and appropriate treatments were more readily available.
Psoriasis has a propensity to coexist with other serious systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and Crohn’s disease. This increases the likelihood of having a seriously hampered quality of life for Psoriasis sufferers.
There have been numerous studies which show that psychological trauma is associated with psoriasis. It can affect everyday activities and employment due to feelings of embarrassment, lack of self-esteem, anxiety and a prevalence of depression.5
One of the main aims of World Psoriasis Day is to highlight and bring awareness to the challenges faced by people with Psoriasis.
Developing Drugs to treat Psoriasis
Drug development for diseases can take up to 10 years to move from initial research and development to being fully tested and approved for the market. Animal testing for many years has been the “Go-To” method for clinical trials. Psoriasis has faced many difficulties when being studied via animal skin models, the most prevalent being that human psoriasis is very different to any form found in animals. Studying the disease only became possible via progress through immunology and genetic engineering.
The use of animal skin models is now less acceptable, with a major swing in global opinion against animal testing. This shift in opinion has created a gap which must be filled in order to continue studying psoriasis to discover new therapies and treatments.