Health Team

Duke pushing to achieve new psoriasis treatments

Posted April 28, 2008
Updated May 1, 2008

— Psoriasis ranks alongside heart failure and diabetes when surveys ask patients how illnesses affect the quality of life.

The painful and disfiguring skin disease affects 4.5 million Americans, but research is leading to new treatment options.

Psoriasis runs throughout Jim Carlson's family, from his father to his daughter, P.J. Leary, and her daughter, Deirdre.

Those family members often get itchy, scaly spots on their skin, caused by autoimmune activity. "Those spots get very dry; they hurt," said Leary.

Carson said he primarily uses moisturizers, while Leary adds a little sunlight to her psoriasis treatment.

"Whereas some people think of sunbathing as being unsafe today, for people like us, it's a very non-invasive way of controlling our skin disease," she said.

In winter, many patients turn to light-box therapy and topical medications, as well.

"We still don't have a cure, but we have much more effective methods of management," Leary said.

Her condition is under better control, thanks to new biological treatments in clinical trials at Duke University Medical Center.

Trial patients are given injections or IV infusions of proteins, grown in cell cultures, to control inflammation.

"They control the steps, so that the cells don't talk to each other in the skin and (that helps) control the redness and the scaling," Dr. John Murray, a dermatologist, said.

Although a heart condition prevents Carlson from participating in the clinical trials, his family said they are excited about where the research might head.

"Absolutely, you know, I think in Deirdre's lifetime, we will find a cure," Leary said.


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  • Aquamarine May 1, 2008

    My brother had (yes, I said HAD) terrible Psoriasis until he met a doctor in Wilmington. He had a cure which was extremely expensive, but it worked. Sorry I don't have more info about it, but there apparently IS something that can be done. His skin is clear now.

  • sassiek2004 May 1, 2008

    People need to educate themselves and learn how to improve their own condition by changing their diet, boosting mineral intake, etc and getting help from books like “Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative” by John Pagano.

    Purplerado: I have done all the research there is on Psoriasis. I have it cause of genetics. I have tried all these things to no avail!! I'm 34 and am covered head to toe!! If I could do the systemics believe me I would. This is not a way I want to live the rest of my life. I think you need to do a little more research. Not everything you have said is CORRECT.

  • purplerado Apr 30, 2008

    They don't say what these agents are they are testing, but the clinical trials at Duke are of drugs like Alefacept, Amevive, Raptiva, Infliximab, Etanercept. Apparently what they are doing is suppressing the symptom by keeping the cells from "talking to one another". Does it occur to anyone that this "ain't natural"? Psoriasis is a systemic condition caused by toxins (e.g., mercury from vaccines and dental amalgams is a common cause), diet (grains and sugar cause inflamation and impair the immune system; an acidic diet also impairs the body's functioning; mineral deficiency is a key factor - especially magnesium), emotional conditions (eg stress), and genetic predisposition. Doctors won't address these things because drug companies control everything. People need to educate themselves and learn how to improve their own condition by changing their diet, boosting mineral intake, etc and getting help from books like “Healing Psoriasis: The Natural Alternative” by John Pagano.

  • ITeechTeens Apr 30, 2008

    My buddy below is correct. Any help is better than none. i suffer from this and it is irritating. physically and psychologically. I love DUKE

  • Duke_Blue_For_Life Apr 30, 2008

    grenlyn1--hummm? I am assuming that you are cluless to what a person who has this horrible thing is going through, and is probably willing to go through a "trial" when all else failed.I say thank you Duke and I hope and pray that this will be a major breakthrough.

  • sassiek2004 Apr 30, 2008

    I myself have Psoriasis. ANY treatment is better than nothing at all. I am grateful someone, somewhere is FINALLY trying to do something about this disease. If you think having poison oak or poison Ivy is bad think again. It itchs, is extremely dry and painful. And most topicals dont help. So thank you Duke!!

  • Timbo Apr 30, 2008

    grenlyn1, could you be more specific? How do you know something will work if you don't test it????

  • grenlyn1 Apr 29, 2008

    Gee great..another "trial"..when will the doctors stop using a community who is already suffering so much in their experimental medicine. So far their track record hasn't been so good.