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    Joint Media Rel: Antisense psoriasis cream-a step closer


    HOMEX - Melbourne

    Melbourne researchers are developing an antisense treatment for
    psoriasis skin lesions.

    Today the international Journal of Investigative Dermatology reports
    that an antisense drug, when applied topically, can enter human
    psoriasis lesions and be delivered to the right place to treat

    Dr Christopher Wraight, leader of the research team at the Murdoch
    Childrens Research Institute says: "These results give us, and our
    partner, the Melbourne biotech company Antisense Therapeutics, the
    confidence to move to pre-clinical studies".

    "Psoriasis affects 200,000 to 300,000 Australians," he says. It is a
    chronic and poorly understood skin condition. The main feature of
    psoriasis is red scaly patches of skin that come and go throughout
    life. It is an uncomfortable and distressing condition.

    The causes of psoriasis are unclear. We do know that it involves an
    abnormal immune, response in the skin in which the affected cells
    grow more rapidly. We expect our cream to slow the growth of these

    Our research shows that the affected cells grow faster in response to
    a growth factor (IGF-1). Our antisense drug stops each cell from
    responding to this growth factor, by blocking the cells production
    of its receptor protein.


    Antisense drugs offer a new way forward for many hard-to-treat
    conditions, says co- inventor Professor George Werther, Director of
    the Centre for Hormone Research at the Murdoch Childrens Research
    Institute, and a director of Antisense Therapeutics.

    Most conventional drugs modify the activity of disease causing
    proteins within the body once they are produced. Antisense drugs will
    go to work earlier, stopping the body from making these proteins.

    Antisense drugs contain a synthetic genetic sequence which binds to
    messenger RNA, the working copy of cur genetic code that guides the
    manufacture of proteins. The research team has created a unique
    sequence that will only bind to the messenger RNA that is making the
    target protein, in this case the IGF-1 receptor protein, to stop its

    The research team has already shown that the drug can help psoriatic
    skin cells heal if it is injected in to the skin. This was reported
    in Nature Biotechnologyin 2000.

    Dr Paul White, lead author on the new paper and based at the
    Victorian College of Pharmacy says: "Our results show that psoriasis
    lesions are easier to penetrate than we had previously thought".

    "We will be taking, the next generation of the drug to pre-clinical
    studies and then it will undergo several years of clinical testing",
    says Christopher Wraight. "Our next step will be, to invite
    volunteers to help us in the next stage of testing".

    Background informationon psoriasis is available at: On antisense technology at:

    Further information:

    * Mark Diamond at Antisense on (03) 9826 0949

    * Narelle Curtis at Murdoch on (03) 8341 6249 and/or

    * Barbara Pesel at Pesel & Carr on (03) 9663 0886
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