Proteins in Psoriasis, Breast Cancer Linked

Psoriasis treatment may benefit from advances in breast cancer research

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Research into treating breast cancer may have also stumbled onto a way to treat psoriasis. The two conditions share a protein that, if blocked, may reduce the intensity of both diseases.

The protein psoriasin, which exists in skin with psoriasis, is also believed to play a part in breast cancer.

"Talk to your doctor about treatment for psoriasis."

Swedish researchers led by associate professor Charlotta Enerbäck found that preventing psoriasin from developing might stop the chain reaction leading to the other diseases.

Psoriasis, a painful skin rash disease that can also cause patients intense mental anguish, occurs when skin cell division goes into overdrive.

When new blood vessels form in deeper skin layers, the surface skin cells continually divide, causing the scaly, itchy red patches on the skin.

The new blood vessels are formed because of a different protein called vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).

VEGF normally helps replenish the oxygen in tissues with poor circulation and creates new blood vessels following exercise or an injury.

But if VEGF gets out of control, it can intensify conditions like breast cancer or psoriasis.

Enerbäck's team tried blocking psoriasin's formation in breast cells called mammary epithelial cells in laboratory conditions. They discovered that decreased psoriasin led to decreased VEGF.

"We want to examine the ability of psoriasin as a target for therapy," Enerbäck said.

This means that if the researchers can find a way to reduce the formation of psoriasin in humans, it may be possible that doing so will reduce VEGF, thereby reducing symptoms of psoriasis. 

For breast cancer patients, it means researchers may have another avenue for targeting a way to prevent progression of the disease.

Right now, the manipulation of cells has occurred in the laboratory so it's too early to know long-term implications of this method for either disease.

The researchers note that past studies with mice have revealed that slowing down the cause of rapidly growing new blood vessels also reduces the overactive cell division.

But targeting VEGF hasn't worked because it's necessary for healing skin cuts and abrasions.

“Since psoriasin expresses itself specifically only in the diseased psoriatic skin, we expect that inhibitors against this are highly selective and effective against the disease, and that the risk for side effects is minimal,” Enerbäck said.

The study appeared online in December in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. The research was funded by the Swedish Cancer Society, The Swedish Psoriasis Association, The Assar Gabrielsson Foundation, The Welander Foundation and the Tore Nilsson Foundation.

The authors reported no conflicts of interest. Information regarding the cost of potential future treatments resulting from this research were not available.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 24, 2012
Last Updated:
February 6, 2012