$6.37 million from National Institutes of Health to find new ways to treat psoriasis

November 06, 2007

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a research center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has awarded Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Case Medical Center a $6.37 million award to establish a Center of Research Translation (CORT) for the skin disease psoriasis.

This is one of the largest grants ever given to a medical institution in the United States for the study of psoriasis.

With a five-year grant from NIAMS, the Psoriasis CORT will bring a multidisciplinary team of translational physicians scientists, nurses, community clinicians, laity and basic scientists from different departments and disciplines together. This team will apply the intellectual and scientific resources of their institutions to new therapies to provide relief to patients with the skin disease that has long-term health and psychosocial consequences.

"Our goal is to find ways to rebalance the human body's immune system and skin cells to restrain the expression of this skin disease," said Kevin Cooper, M.D., department chair of dermatology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center (UHCMC) and professor of dermatology at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "It is very important to obtain safe and durable remissions from disease because psoriasis has significant impact on patient health, spanning psychosocial effects, and risk for long-term cardiovascular complications and cancers."

The CORT grant complements a $5 million gift to University Hospitals Case Medical Center (UHCMC) from The Murdough Foundation that was received in December 2006 designed to advance the research and treatment of psoriasis. The gift remains the largest known in the United States for dermatology at an academic medical center. The Murdough Family Center for Psoriasis supports and stimulates clinical research and treatment for, and education about, psoriasis and creates a critical base for the CORT research projects and cores.

"Together with the recently awarded $64 million NIH Clinical Translational Services Award to Case Western Reserve University and the NIH NIAMS Skin Diseases Research Center at Case Medical Center, the Psoriasis CORT concentrates a remarkable array of interactive research resources that we expect to change patient care with safer and better therapies," said Pamela Davis, dean of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

"This CORT award reinforces University Hospitals Case Medical Center's dedication to, and progress with both the treatment and research of psoriasis," said Fred C. Rothstein, M.D., president and CEO of University Hospitals Case Medical Center. "Our unique interdisciplinary approach to psoriasis therapy and study places us at the forefront of eventually curing this debilitating disease."

The NIAMS grant will allow research teams to focus on three projects that simultaneously utilize different strategies to study the disease.Case Western Reserve and UHCMC are recognized as leaders in the study of psoriasis in multiple ways; the Skin Disease Research Center, which is one of only six NIH/NIAMS centers throughout the entire country; the Murdough Family Center for Psoriasis; NIH NIAMS research project funding; Veterans Administration translational clinical trial funding; and now the Psoriasis CORT.
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About the researchers

The Psoriasis CORT will be under the direction of Kevin D. Cooper, M.D., professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology, who will lead a research team. In addition to Dr. Cooper, the research team includes Thomas McCormick, PhD, associate director; Neil Korman, MD, PhD, associate director for clinical research; Nicole Ward, PhD, and Elma Baron, MD, project directors; Pratima Karnik, PhD, and Mireya Diaz, PhD, (Epidemiology and Biostatistics), core directors. The study brings together an interdisciplinary team that also includes Mark Chance, PhD, director of the Proteomics Center, Nancy Oleinick, PhD, Professor of Radiation Biology, Anne Marie Broome, Assistant Professor, Radiology and Case Center for Imaging Research, and Daniel Simon, MD, Chief, division of Cardiovascular Medicine.

About Psoriasis

Psoriasis affects approximately six million people in the United States (2 percent of the population) at an annual cost over $1 billion in healthcare treatments. The disease is believed to have a genetic component. Additionally, the patients' immune system is mistakenly triggered, resulting in an increased growth cycle of skin cells up to seven times the normal growth rate. The increased skin growth leads to the formation of lesions on the skin which can be inflamed. Psoriasis patients are also predisposed to a specific form of arthritis associated with the disease. Over time, psoriasis outbreaks may progress from small patches that can be treated topically, to later stages where the lesions can cover arms, legs, scalp and torso. The disease also appears to put the patient at greater risk for cardiovascular diseases, treatment complications and lymphomas.

About the NIAMS

The mission of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a part of the Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health, is to support research into the causes, treatment and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases; the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research; and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. For more information about NIAMS, call the information Clearinghouse at (301) 495-4484 or (877) 22-NIAMS (free call) or visit the NIAMS Web site at www.niams.nih.gov.

About Case Western Reserve University

Case is among the nation's leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case offers nationally recognized programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work. http://www.case.edu.

About University Hospitals

With 150 locations throughout Northeast Ohio, University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of hospitals, outpatient centers and primary care physicians. At the core of our Health System is University Hospitals Case Medical Center. The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation and the world, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics and spine, radiology and radiation oncology, neurosurgery and neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, organ transplantation and human genetics. Its main campus includes the internationally celebrated Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked best in the Midwest and first in the nation for the care of critically ill newborns; MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and Ireland Cancer Center, which holds the nation's highest designation by the National Cancer Institute of Comprehensive Cancer Center. For more information, go to www.uhhospitals.org

Case Western Reserve University

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