Molecule Discovery Shows Promise for Gene Therapy for Skin Diseases

University of Birmingham scientists announced the discovery of a protein that could hold the key to novel therapies for skin problems such as psoriasis.

The newly discovered protein, which is a fragment of a larger molecule, called JARID2 was present to only be present in the developing embryo, where it coordinates the formation of tissues and organs.

JARID2 is responsible for ensuring these skin cells 'differentiate', or become a more specialised cell type.

In some diseases, cells lose their capability to differentiate, and reproduce more rapidly.

Being able to redirect cells back to their usual life cycle could alleviate the processes behind the disease.

This is the case with psoriasis, which is caused by the overly-rapid reproduction of skin cells.

The excess cells are then pushed to the surface of the skin too quickly, resulting in a build-up of cells that aren’t fully mature on the surface of the skin, causing flaky, crusty red patches covered with silvery scales.

The newly discovered protein N-JARID2 is responsible for showing how gene expression is regulated in normal and diseased conditions.

N-JARID2 is present in the skin layers and is responsible for ensuring that the tissues maintain their usual state of differentiation which is necessary to properly form skin layers.

N-JARID2 in therapies aimed towards conditions caused by hyper-proliferation of skin cells such as psoriasis.

Researchers are now investigating how N-JARID2 is generated and its wider implication in disease, while the patenting team hopes that this discovery will ultimately lead to novel therapies for skin conditions.

In addition, Psoriasis is treatable, with some of the current biologic therapies. 90% of psoriasis patients can achieve significant improvement in their skin, whilst up to 50% of patients achieve complete clearance of their skin for five years or longer.