What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a skin condition in which inflammation in the skin, exacerbated by T-cells of the adaptive immune system (autoimmune response), causes itchy and sometimes painful rashes and lesions. The lesions develop because the skin cells grow and divide rapidly. The most common type of psoriasis is called plaque psoriasis. The plaques are dry, red and raised rashes covered by silvery-white scales. These plaques occur most commonly on the elbows, knees, scalp and lower back.
Most Psoriasis patients have mild or moderate psoriasis. Mild psoriasis means that less than 3% of the body surface area is involved, while moderate disease usually involves between 3 and 10% body surface area. Disease involving more than 10% body surface area is usually classified as severe.
Psoriasis can decrease a patient’s quality of life, and can also be associated with cardiovascular, arthritic and metabolic diseases, as well as anxiety, depression and suicide. The psoriasis itself can evolve into chronic inflammatory arthritis called psoriatic arthritis. In addition, for those with severe psoriasis there can be an increased risk of lymphoma, like cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
Psoriasis is usually diagnosed initially in patients before age 35, but can occur at any age. There are many factors which can results in the development of psoriasis.
Some Quick Facts about Psoriasis
- Psoriasis is not contagious
- Psoriasis flare-ups can be triggered, and the triggers will vary between individuals
- Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease
- Psoriasis can have many different causes, including genetics, the environment and some medications
- Psoriasis is believed to occur in up to 125 million people worldwide, and up to 8 million people in the US
- Most patients with psoriasis have mild or moderate disease
- Psoriasis may be increasing over time
More information on psoriasis can be found at the in the World Health Organization’s 2016 Global Report on Psoriasis.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Psoriasis symptoms are most commonly seen on the skin and potentially include red patches of skin with silvery scales (called plaques), small scaling spots (guttate psoriasis; more commonly seen in children), dry cracked skin that may bleed and/or may be itchy, and skin that is itchy, burning or sore. The extent of skin involvement can be very small to very large. Skin areas most commonly affected include the elbows, knees, legs, soles of the feet, palms of the hands, scalp, face and lower back.
Symptoms may also involve the nails, including thick nails or nails with pitting or ridges.
Finally psoriasis can also effect the joints – including swollen or stiff joints.
Psoriasis symptoms often flare up and then go away, often to occur again later. There may be specific triggers for flares for some individuals.
There are a number of different types of psoriasis, generally reflecting where the symptoms occur. The most common version is plaque psoriasis occurring on the elbows, knees, scalp and back.
Psoriasis Treatment Options
Treatment options for psoriasis are determined by the extent of involvement (severity) of the disease, as well as the type of disease. The major objective of psoriasis treatment is to reduce the rate that the skin cells grow and divide and to remove the scales. Generally treatments can be divided into 3 types: topical treatments, light therapy (phototherapy or photodynamic therapy) and systemic (oral or injected) medications.
Skin-directed (topical) treatments
Phototherapy and Photodynamic Therapy (Light Therapy)
Where Soligenix Comes in
SGX302 is a SAFE photodynamic therapy using visible fluorescent light and synthetically manufactured hypericin ointment. It is designed by Soligenix as a treatment for mild to moderate psoriasis, ideally enabling patients to undergo more treatments to manage their disease while accumulating significantly fewer risks/toxicities.
Hypericin is one of the most photoactive compounds known – it is easily activated with relatively low energy light. This makes it ideal for photodynamic therapy because it can be activated with fluorescent light, instead of UV A or UV B light, which are associated with increased cancer risks.
SGX302 is currently being planned for use in a Phase 2 clinical study in psoriasis.
Helpful Psoriasis Care Resources
Information on psoriasis disease progression and treatment options is also available at the following sites:
American Academy of Dermatology Psoriasis Resource Center