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Genes linked to psoriasis identified

Posted on 18/10/2010

Genomics in the lab

Genetic variants associated with increased susceptibility to psoriasis are reported in five papers published online this week in Nature Genetics. Psoriasis is a chronic and recurrent skin disease, and one of the most prevalent autoimmune diseases, with a global prevalence of 2-3 per cent.

One of the studies was led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University, and involved multiple UK institutions.

The team of researchers led by Professor Richard Trembath, Head of King’s College London’s Division of Genetics and Molecular Medicine and Director of the NIHR BRC, in collaboration with Professor Jonathan Barker, carried out a genome-wide association study of 2,622 patients with psoriasis and 5,667 healthy individuals from across the UK. The results were replicated with European studies involving more than 9,000 individuals. The study identified six regions of the genome newly associated with psoriasis, and found evidence for an interaction between two associated regions – HLA-C and ERAP1.  

This is the first report of an interaction observed within a genome wide association study into psoriasis. An interaction is when the risks for the disease occur at two independent regions, but when present together lead to a substantial increase in the chance of developing the disease.

Professor Richard Trembath, at King’s College London and co-lead for the study said: 'We need to understand why psoriasis occurs and why individuals are more likely to develop the condition.  Through our research, and other studies now coming through, the research community have identified genes that play a role in people’s susceptibility to the condition.

'Our genetics studies in psoriasis are the largest worldwide and because of their strong statistical power have identified many new genetic loci linked to psoriasis. As a result we now have a much clearer view of what causes this chronic common distressing disease.

'This work provides evidence of possible targets for future treatment strategies and this information is an important basis for further studies.'

This research is part of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium 2, genome-wide association studies funded in 2008 into 13 different conditions: Ankylosing spondylitis, Barrett's oesophagus and oesophageal adenocarcinoma, glaucoma, ischaemic stroke, multiple sclerosis, pre-eclampsia, Parkinson's disease, psychosis endophenotypes, psoriasis, schizophrenia, ulcerative colitis and visceral leishmaniasis.

Notes to editors

The comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust and King's College London, is one of five National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) comprehensive Biomedical Research Centres in the UK. With its strong focus on ‘translational research’ across seven research themes and a number of cross-cutting disciplines, it aims to take advances in basic medical research out of the laboratory and into the clinical setting to benefit patients at the earliest opportunity. Access to the uniquely diverse patient population of London and the south east enables it to drive forward research into a wide range of diseases and medical conditions.  Website:

King's College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2010 QS international world rankings), The Sunday Times 'University of the Year 2010/11' and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King's has nearly 23,000 students (of whom more than 8,600 are graduate students) from nearly 140 countries, and some 5,500 employees. King's is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London are part of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC), a pioneering collaboration between King’s College London, and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts.

King’s Health Partners is one of only five AHSCs in the UK and brings together an unrivalled range and depth of clinical and research expertise, spanning both physical and mental health. Our combined strengths will drive improvements in care for patients, allowing them to benefit from breakthroughs in medical science and receive leading edge treatment at the earliest possible opportunity. For more information, visit

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