DNA from National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank Released for Study

Sep 01, 2010, 14:38 ET from National Psoriasis Foundation

University of Michigan scientists receive first 1,250 research samples

PORTLAND, Ore., Sept. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Millions of Americans struggling with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are one step closer to a cure with the first-ever release of National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank DNA samples for use in psoriasis research. The samples will allow scientists to uncover the unknowns about the genetics of psoriatic disease and its causes.

James T. Elder, M.D., Ph.D., professor of molecular genetic dermatology in the Department of Dermatology at the University of Michigan Health System, and his research team received the first 1,250 BioBank DNA samples today and will use the samples to identify new genes that increase a person's risk factor for developing psoriasis. They also will examine the connection between psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn's disease. Additional BioBank DNA samples will be given to Elder in the coming months.

A disabling and disfiguring disease of the immune system that appears on the skin, psoriasis is the most common autoimmune disease in the country, affecting as many as 7.5 million Americans, yet it is the most under-researched. Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, a related joint disease.

The National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank, started by the National Psoriasis Foundation in 2006, is a collection of DNA samples and clinical information used by scientists to advance the field of psoriasis genetics. Once it meets its collection goals, the BioBank will be the largest single compilation of psoriasis DNA samples in the world.

"The BioBank is a critical resource for bringing us one step closer to a cure for psoriasis, and we are honored to partner with Elder and his team on this landmark project," said Rick Seiden, chair of the National Psoriasis Foundation Board of Trustees. "This endeavor would not be possible without the hundreds of people with and without psoriatic disease who donated DNA over the past four years. We thank all of them for their vital contribution to psoriasis research."

The Psoriasis Foundation created the BioBank in honor of Victor Henschel, a highly respected member of the psoriasis community who lived with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis for 35 years. The Henschel family, many of whom also live with psoriatic disease, donated money to the Foundation to start the BioBank.

"Psoriasis has been in my family for generations, said Andrew Henschel, Victor's grandson, who lives in Miami. "I developed it as a teenager and my oldest daughter, Lauren, also lives with it. The idea behind our gift to the Psoriasis Foundation is that my family wants to make sure psoriatic disease won't get passed down to future generations. We want to create something with a really wonderful result to help the rest of the world that suffers with this painful disease."

To learn more about the BioBank, visit www.psoriasis.org/biobank.

About the National Psoriasis Foundation

The National Psoriasis Foundation is the world's largest nonprofit organization serving people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Our mission is to find a cure for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis and to eliminate their devastating effects through research, advocacy and education. For more information, call the Psoriasis Foundation, headquartered in Portland, Ore., at 800.723.9166, or visit www.psoriasis.org.

SOURCE National Psoriasis Foundation