Psoriasis, a condition that causes flaky patches of skin covered with white scales, affects about 3% of people in the UK and Europe. Of those, it’s been shown that up to a third will go on to develop a related arthritis (psoriatic arthritis: PsA) that causes joints and tendons to become inflamed and painful.
A new study is looking for 2000 volunteers in the UK to understand the factors leading to patients developing PsA.
‘At the moment there is no way to predict which patients with psoriasis are likely to go on to develop joint problems,’ said Professor Laura Coates, NIHR Clinician Scientist and Senior Clinical Research Fellow at NDORMS, University of Oxford, who is leading the project in collaboration with a team at University College Dublin. ‘We think this group of patients will help us to completely change how we think about the development of PsA and how to predict it. It will help us to design prevention studies, where we would offer potential drug treatments or lifestyle interventions (like exercise or stress management) to see if we can prevent people with psoriasis developing arthritis.’
Called the HIPPOCRATES Prospective Observational Study (HPOS), the online study will monitor people with psoriasis over a three-year period to see who develops PsA. It will be completely remote with participants filling in questionnaires online and sending small fingerprick blood samples by prepaid post. Initially looking to recruit the volunteers from the UK, the ultimate goal is to recruit 25,000 people with psoriasis across 12 countries.
The study is part of wider research called The HIPPOCRATES project investigating psoriatic arthritis across Europe. It is a large consortium of over 25 research groups across Europe, led by Professor Oliver FitzGerald in Dublin which aims to answer 4 key research questions around psoriasis diagnosis, prediction, response to therapies, and prognosis on who will get joint damage.
Professor FitzGerald, Consultant Rheumatologist at University College Dublin said: ‘People who have psoriasis have been involved in every aspect of HPOS including study design, promotion, self-recruitment and consent. Given that the results of this study will likely identify risk factors associated with progression of skin psoriasis to psoriatic arthritis we anticipate strong public engagement, paving the way for consideration of treatments to prevent psoriatic arthritis from developing.’
Patients wishing to take part in the research can find out more and apply at the HPOS study website.