Is Psoriasis A Hereditary Disease?
Genetics and Psoriasis
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Recently, I had the opportunity to be a guest speaker at a local church on a rainy Sunday afternoon. When I go to a group for the first time, I often let them know about my psoriasis. It helps people get to know me and connects with my life experiences and spirituality. That particular Sunday was no exception.
After my talk, one person came up to me and shared that he also has psoriasis, albeit a fairly mild case. One of his children has started showing symptoms as well. He and his wife asked me if my children have psoriasis. I quickly replied, “Not yet,” knowing full well the possibility of passing on psoriasis to my children.
I love my family dearly and wouldn’t wish psoriasis on any of them. From each of my children’s births, to this day, I vigilantly monitor for any psoriatic activity on their skin. Psoriasis has impacted my life immensely and I know it would cause suffering and difficulty for any of them. While there are countless other ailments or troubles that could befall the next generation, I focus particularly on psoriasis. Why? Because of the countless stories I have heard about psoriasis running in families.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation web site, one out of three people with psoriasis report having a relative with psoriasis, and a child with a parent with psoriasis has about a ten percent chance of having psoriasis . If my wife also suffered from psoriasis, the statistic would jump to fifty percent! I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have married Lori if she had psoriasis, but that’s a coin toss I’m glad my kids don’t have to play statistically.
I’ve always wondered if psoriasis ran in my family. Too many of my relatives died in World War II in China or during the ensuing Communist Revolution. My parents and brother are free of psoriasis, although they all have some kind of skin ailment or severe allergies. We may have compromised immune systems in the Chang family, but it seems only I actually have psoriasis.
If there is a genetic component to developing psoriasis, then where are we in the research of isolating those genes and finding a treatment? After doing some simple searches online, I found some recent research about isolating the genes that may make one more susceptible to developing psoriasis. One article I read, titled “” discussed one of five studies published online inNature Genetics. I am not a medical professional, so I must say that some of the medical jargon flies right over my head. But the following excerpt boils it down nicely for the layman:
Professor Richard Trembath, at King's College London and co-lead for the study said: "We need to understand why psoriasis occurs and why individuals are more likely to develop the condition. Through our research, and other studies now coming through, the research community have identified genes that play a role in people's susceptibility to the condition.
"Our genetics studies in psoriasis are the largest worldwide and because of their strong statistical power have identified many new genetic loci linked to psoriasis. As a result we now have a much clearer view of what causes this chronic common distressing disease.”
That’s great news! I’ve heard of researchers collecting tissues samples related to psoriasis, so it’s very welcome news to hear the positive results thus far.
About fifteen years ago I asked my dermatologist about genetics and if there would be a genetic cure or therapy for psoriasis. He thought perhaps in my lifetime. I’m not so sure of a cure coming that soon, but I have some assurance that if my children, or their children, have psoriasis, that the genetic cure could be available for them. Until then, we won’t give up scratching the “itch to beat psoriasis.”
Does psoriasis run in your family? What are your thoughts on the role genetics play in psoriasis?
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