New Discovery May Yield Novel Therapies for Psoriasis

January 11, 2019

A research team at the University of Birmingham has discovered a protein in adult skin cells that it hopes may lead to gene therapies for psoriasis and other skin diseases. They wrote about the protein in The EMBO Journal.

According to a university press release, the protein is part of the larger molecule JARID2, which coordinates the formation of tissues and organs in developing embryos. Although JARID2 was thought to be exclusively in developing embryos, the researchers found a shorted form of the molecule in adult skin cells and dubbed it ΔN-JARID2.

The newly discovered protein ensures skin cells “differentiate,” or become a more specialized cell type, the research team explained.

“In some diseases, cells lose their ability to differentiate, and reproduce more rapidly,” said team leader Aditi Kanhere, PhD, in the press release. “Being able to redirect cells back to their usual life cycle could alleviate the processes behind the disease.”

In psoriasis, for example, a too-rapid division of skin cells pushes immature excess cells to the surface of the skin, where they build up and cause flaky, red patches with silvery scales. The team found that ΔN-JARID2 ensures tissues maintain a state of differentiation that forms proper skin layers.

A patenting team at University of Birmingham Enterprise has already filed a broad-based patent covering the protein’s use in therapies to treat in psoriasis and similar skin conditions. Meanwhile, the research team continues to investigate how the protein is generated and whether it has a wider implication in skin diseases.

Jolynn Tumolo


Al-Raawi D, Jones R, Wijesinghe S, et al. A novel form of JARID2 is required for differentiation in lineage-committed cells. The EMBO Journal. 2018 December 20;[Epub ahead of print].

Molecule discovery holds promise for gene therapies for psoriasis [press release]. Birmingham, United Kingdom: University of Birmingham; December 20, 2018.

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