Presence of gene variant helps protect against scaly skin patches

January 26th, 2009 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore, Jan 26 (IANS) Researchers have identified a gene variant that helps protect against psoriasis, a chronic skin disease characterised by red scaly patches.Researchers led by Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) associate professor Liu Jianjun focussed on genetic variants in the human genomes of a large cohort of patients with psoriasis and healthy controls in Chinese population.

Liu and colleagues, one of the three independent teams that have been simultaneously performing genetic studies on psoriasis, found that a genetic variant within what is known as the LCE gene cluster is able to provide protection against it.

One of the LCE genes’ functions is to code proteins that are part of cells located in the outermost layers of skin. These proteins are important for maintaining the skin’s barrier function.

“Together with the findings from the other two studies,” said Liu, “our finding suggests that compromised skin barrier function play a role in the development of psoriasis. This is a very important find, as it advances our understanding of the genetic basis of psoriasis, which in turn is important for early diagnosis and prediction of an individual’s risk to the disease.”

While Liu’s team focussed on a Chinese population, the other two studies were conducted on Western populations. “Our team’s work is also important because it is the first study ever done on a Chinese population - all other studies on psoriasis so far have focussed on western populations,” said Liu, according to a GIS release.

All three independent studies will be published simultaneously by Nature Genetics.

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