New DNA findings on the four 'hotspots' of psoriasis could help scientists to develop new treatments for the most common autoimmune disease.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan Heath System and their collaborators.
Using cutting-edge methods to peer into the hidden genetic underpinnings of the disabling and disfiguring disease, the research, further maps the as-yet unknown territories of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
The findings could lead to new drug targets and tailored treatments for the skin disease, says James T. Elder, lead investigator on the study, which included researchers from the Department of Dermatology and School of Public Health.
"This is a hot topic in genetics these days," Elder says. "Even when you add up all the genes that have been found around the world so far, they only account for about 40 percent of the genetic liability to psoriasis. The question among geneticists continues to be, 'Where is the dark matter?' "
The new research builds on past work by the U-M team, whose discoveries have helped to unveil the hereditary factors of the disease and provide scientists with a better understanding of psoriasis' relationship to other autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Two of the four new susceptibility loci - or "hotspots" - were strongly linked to psoriatic arthritis, a painful and destructive form of arthritis that affects about 1 in 4 psoriasis patients, Elder says.
The research was published in Nature Genetics.