Science Sunday #5

Science Sunday #5

This week’s article, Promising Psoriasis Treatment Signals Hope for microRNA Therapies, was originally published on the Spoonful of Medicine blog on 2/26/14.  (If you are interested in reading the original paper that this article is about, the link is here.)

Important Concepts:

Antibody therapy:  “…newer antibody-based therapies provide some relief for some of the most severe cases…
Cytokine
 (specifically the Overview section on the page):  “…immune cells infiltrate the skin and release molecules called cytokines that stimulate the skin cells to grow too rapidly.
microRNA
(also known as miRNA/miR):  “…a short bit of genetic material that influences the production of proteins in cells…
Modes of drug delivery:  “Wagner says that his team has not yet figured out how to get the inhibitor to cross the skin barrier, aside from simply injecting it just beneath the surface…
Psoriasis:  “Nearly 2% of people worldwide chronically suffer from itchy and painful patches on their bodies, the manifestation of psoriasis…”

I find new developments in therapeutics interesting, regardless of what disease they are treating.  With respect to that, I chose this week’s article to highlight an advance in the field of microRNA-based therapies, which are another up-and-coming area of research and development.  When new treatments enter into clinical trials, one hurdle they must overcome is how they compare to current treatments for the same disease:  does this new treatment work better? does it have less side effects? does it treat a different population of patients?  In the case of psoriasis, there are already many treatment options available, including antibody therapy, immune suppressants, and corticosteroids, but the hope is that this anti-miR-21 therapy will work for patients for whom existing treatments have been unsuccessful.  So far the treatment has only been tested in xenograft mouse models, but the results appear promising!

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