Psoriasis Origin Debunked: New Study Dismisses Skin Cell Mutation Theory

Alex Rodriguez

Written by Alex Rodriguez


Scientists have been delving into the intricate world of psoriasis, a condition that affects over 7 million adults in the U.S. This immune system-mediated disease is known for causing red, itchy skin plaques that can significantly impact quality of life. Despite its prevalence, there remains a substantial gap in understanding the cellular mechanisms at play in psoriasis.

Investigating Somatic Mutations in Psoriasis

Recent research has shed light on whether somatic mutations—changes in DNA that occur after conception in any cell other than sperm and egg cells—play a role in psoriasis. These mutations are a natural part of aging and can result from DNA repair errors, environmental factors, or stress. In cancer development, the role of somatic mutations is well-established, particularly those in oncogenes or DNA repair mechanisms. However, when it comes to non-cancerous cells, the impact of these mutations is less clear.

New technologies have enabled researchers to look closer at somatic mutations in non-cancerous diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and chronic liver disease, to determine if environmental changes might drive these mutations. In the world of psoriasis research, a study published in Nature Genetics conducted by the Wellcome Sanger Institute stands out. The study involved 111 participants and took 1,182 punch biopsies, comparing psoriatic lesions to healthy skin.

Study Findings and Implications for Psoriasis Treatment

The study’s findings were revealing in that common mutations related to UV exposure were present even in patients who had not undergone phototherapy, a common treatment for psoriasis. They also discovered mutations that could be traced back to psoralens, which are compounds that might be found in outdated sunscreen ingredients. Despite these findings, the study concluded that somatic mutations are not the cause of psoriasis nor do they affect the development of skin cells from stem cells.

However, the study did help quantify the mutational consequences of psoralens, which could be valuable for future research. It’s important to note that while somatic mutations in skin cells may not be the culprits behind psoriasis, mutations in immune cells could still play a role in the disease. This highlights the complexity of psoriasis and the need for advanced analytical techniques to uncover the relationships between various risk factors.

The Challenges and Future of Psoriasis Research

Conducting psoriasis research is challenging due to the lifelong nature of the disease and the typical short duration of clinical trials. To truly understand psoriasis, future trials need to be pragmatically designed with active comparators, larger sample sizes, and longer durations. Psoriasis is a multifactorial condition, and thus, innovative techniques and new research approaches are crucial to developing better treatments.

In summary, while somatic mutations are a key factor in cancer, their role in psoriasis is less direct. The study by the Wellcome Sanger Institute provides valuable insights but also underscores the fact that psoriasis research still has a long way to go. With continued investigation and the application of innovative research methods, there is hope for more effective psoriasis treatments in the future.