American scientists discovered that solenopsins, the toxic component coming from the venom of fire ants, might be used to treat psoriasis in humans. The component was integrated into a cream to treat the symptoms of the skin disorder and showed impressive results that bring new hopes to medical advances. Researchers believe the venom can be combined with other existing treatments.

The researchers of the Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta – who already found that solenopsins can potentially decrease the growth of cancer cells -, tested the venom on mice and it impressively reduced the skin thickening and inflammation, which are very hard-to-treat typical symptoms of the disease which is incurable. According to the study published in Scientific Reports, this could lead to a final cure for humans.

Image credit: Amdro
Image credit: Amdro

Psoriasis is a common condition that accelerates the production of the skin cells – causing the creation of a cell over another. This leads a person to have an irregular surface due to the extra-skin, which tend to be itchy and painful. This excessive reproduction of skin cells usually appears and disappears, so it’s better for the patient to treat it as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, according to the Mayo Clinic, this condition has no cure but can be stabilized principally with a good lifestyle – quitting smoking and managing stress.

Around 7.5 million Americans, 650,000 people in the UK and 125 million people worldwide have psoriasis. It often appears in the ages of 15 and 25. Up to 30 percent of patients with psoriasis develop it along with arthritis. Many celebrated personalities have openly assured to have this skin condition, including the TV reality star Kim Kardashian and former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher.

“We believe that solenopsin analogs are contributing to full restoration of the barrier function in the skin,” said lead author Jack Arbiser, professor of dermatology at Emory. “Emollients can soothe the skin in psoriasis, but they are not sufficient for restoration of the barrier.”

Psoriasis is a common condition that accelerates the production of the skin cells. Image credit: Huy Ngo Youtube Channel
Psoriasis is a common condition that accelerates the production of the skin cells. Image credit: Huy Ngo Youtube Channel

A venom used to treat mice skin

The Emory University School of Medicine researchers, in Atlanta, applied the fire ants’ venom, solenopsins, on mice’s psoriasis. The toxic compound is very relatable to ceramides, whose molecules are found in beauty products to treat the skin and maintain its barrier functions.

There were two groups of mice: one of them received for 28 days one of the two creams for the skin, while the other did not receive any treatment. Later that day, scientists realized that the symptoms had decreased by at least 30 percent, and a 50 percent decrease of less immune cells attacking the mice’s skins.

Doctors felt impressed when they saw that the inflammatory signal IL-22, which they believe it negatively affects the skin, had lowered its production. Also, they saw an increase in anti-inflammatory IL-12, which has the total opposite effect.

“The findings are interesting,” Dr Anjali Mahto, a consultant dermatologist and British Skin Foundation, told the Daily Mail with cautious. “The findings are not at a stage where we can determine how clinically relevant these observations are or will be in the treatment of psoriasis.”

Source: Scientific Reports