NPF-supported researcher earns five-year National Institutes of Health grant

Research aims to identify new drug formula for psoriasis treatments in pill or lotion form

Dr. Sam Hwang of the Medical College of Wisconsin received a $1.06 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to build on his National Psoriasis Foundation-backed work examining small molecules called CCR6 that are linked to psoriasis inflammation. Hwang and colleagues aim to use this five-year federal grant to come up with a formula that could be used in a pill or lotion to treat psoriasis.

Hwang and his team—using data gathered from a National Psoriasis Foundation two-year, $200,000 Lutto Translational Research Grant, named to recognize a bequest from Seymour and Rebecca Lutto, in memory of their son Lawrence—discovered that mice genetically engineered to have psoriasis-like symptoms improved when treated with drugs targeting the CCR6 pathway. The team also used sophisticated computer programs to scan more than 10,000 drug compounds for the likelihood they could be used in treatment.

Now, the researchers will use the NIH grant to come up with a very specific drug formula in hopes that it could treat psoriasis in a pill or a lotion form. In addition to the Lutto Translational Research Grant in 2012, Hwang also received a one-year, $50,000 National Psoriasis Foundation Discovery Grant in 2011. Without those NPF grants, Hwang said his research would never have gotten off the ground.

"(The NPF grants) led to two strong publications that these days are necessary to convince the NIH reviewers that the data is valid," Hwang said.

National Psoriasis Foundation research grants are intended to lay the groundwork for additional funding from the NIH and other funding agencies. Translational research grants aim to move laboratory science into new treatments for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Help support other researchers like Dr. Hwang identify new psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis treatments.

August 29, 2013