The National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases awarded 6.5 million dollars to a team of researchers last month. The grant funding goes towards the creation of a new research center that will target psoriasis and related conditions such as psoriatic arthritis. Keep reading to learn more details about this development, or follow the original story here.
Researchers titled the new center the Center of Research Translation in Psoriasis, shortened to CORT, at CWRU and UHCMC. Researchers awarded the grant come from both of the abbreviated teams – the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (CWRU SOM) and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center (UHCMC).
Dr. Kevin Cooper, serving as NIH Contact Principal Investigator and Administrative Director of the Center describes the CORT as “bring[ing] together the strengths of the Department of Dermatology and the Murdough Family Center for Psoriasis in psoriasis care and research with the innovative approaches of our Institute for Computational Biology, Department of Population & Quantitative Health Sciences (PQHS),”
Using advancing technologies and bioinformatics alongside clinical science, CORT seeks to further translational discovery and application in psoriasis. CORT aims to more accurately identify and treat psoriasis patients who are most vulnerable to developing psoriasis-related co-morbidities such as psoriatic arthritis.
Researchers at CORT select data sourced from blood and skin samples of psoriasis patients, and preclinical models, from UHCMC. Using this data, researchers attempt to uncover novel patterns and relationships by means of a systems biology approach. Investigators combine research data with patient information from a large database that covers multiple hospital systems.
Having access to such a large amount of data, combined with new ways of interacting with it, allows CORT to make better connections between groups of patients with related forms of psoriasis. These results seem to provide distinct advantages over only being able to analyze a patient’s unique situation and courses of treatment.
CORT’s approach takes advantage of tailor-made computing to efficiently find drug candidates or repurposed drugs that align with patient profiles. These drugs, pulled from a database spanning tens of thousands of candidates, can then be tested in specially engineered mouse models of psoriasis. Drugs that succeed in the mouse models may hopefully be tested in humans as well.
Lead members of the project point out that CORT provides a unique opportunity through its innovative use of mouse models. Specifically, CORT is unique in its study of co-morbidities. Treatment for psoriasis, as it relates to skin disease and symptoms, has steadily advanced in the modern age. Staying ahead of the curve and determining which patients are likely to suffer form which co-morbidities has been a more difficult proposition. CORT, however, seems poised to make a breakthrough.