Clinical Trial for Psoriasis Examines Effect of UV Light

May 12, 2009

A clinical trial on psoriasis patients at Rockefeller University has begun with the goal of discovering the way in which ultraviolet light, already a proven treatment, works to treat the skin disorder.

A clinical trial on psoriasis patients at Rockefeller University has begun with the goal of discovering the way in which ultraviolet (UV) light, already a proven treatment, works to treat the skin disorder.

Michelle Lowes, assistant professor of clinical investigation, Laboratory for Investigative Dermatology, has been working for years to discover the cell types and proteins involved in psoriasis. In the current study, she is particularly interested in looking at whether UV light B (UBV) treatment targets a pathway with cytokines, two immune system proteins.

Lowes believes these “may disrupt certain types of T cells and another specialized group of immune-directing dendritic cells.” Lowes and colleagues will treat patients who visit the hospital three times a week for as long as four months with narrowband UVB therapy. Skin and blood samples will be taken from the patients to allow the investigators to determine how the treatment is working at the molecular level.

“If we can define the mechanism of action we may potentially have new therapeutic targets for psoriasis and other diseases,” said Lowes, recipient of a 2008 Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Clinical Scientist Development Award, which is supporting the study.

The researchers, who include clinical research nurse practitioner Patricia Gilleaudeau, will provide the treatment free of charge.

“We try to help them continue with treatment after they leave whenever we can,” says Gilleaudeau, who added that she will consult with the patients and their families and help them gather the resources to continue the treatment at home.

“We are excited about studying this commonly used therapy for psoriasis with modern methods, and hope that this will lead to a better understanding of this complicated and common skin disease,” said Lowes, who added that she hopes to have preliminary results in about a year.