Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Skin so soft?

Possible New Cure for Psoriasis

(Science Blog - Univ. of Bonn - by bjs - 16 Aug 2004)

Cell biologists of the University of Bonn, in cooperation with the University of Leeds and industry may have discovered a new effective therapy for psoriasis: a specific group of what are known as metalloproteinase inhibitors can normalise the increased tendency of epidermis cells (keratinocytes) to divide, which is the cause of this unpleasant lepidosis. ...

About two million Germans suffer from psoriasis (from the Greek psora meaning 'itching, scratching'). In this incurable disease the regeneration of the epidermis is speeded up enormously: whereas it normally renews itself in just under four weeks, this period is cut to four to seven days in psoriasis patients. The reason is the greatly increased rate of cell division of the keratinocytes. They form a layer which separates the epidermis from the dermis, which lies beneath it. The ageing cells pass from this germinal layer to the surface until they finally scale off. ...

One of the substances which stimulate the division of the keratinocytes is the protein sAPPα. It is produced during the decomposition of a larger protein, APP. The keratinocytes produce an enzyme which cuts the APP down to size as sAPPα: this is known as the α-secretase. Professor Herzog's research team has now blocked these 'molecular scissors'.

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