Fire Ant Venom Could Be a Surprising New Psoriasis Treatment

As many as 6 million Americans experience the pain and irritation of the skin condition psoriasis, who could now find comfort in the unlikeliest of places.Scientists have discovered that compounds derived from fire ant venom could take the sting out of this incurable autoimmune disease, leading to hopes of new Psoriasis Treatment.New research, led by a team from Emory University, has found that solenopsin – the alkaloid that constitutes the chief toxic component in the venom of fire ants(aka the genus Solenopsis) – bears a strong chemical resemblance to lipid molecules called ceramides, which help to protect the skin.Ceramides maintain the barrier function of our skin by helping the epidermis to retain moisture and repel microorganisms, which is why they’re used in a variety of topical skin medications, including ones to treat eczema.

But there’s a problem with ceramides – in some circumstances, the molecule can degrade into what’s called sphingosine–1-phosphate (S1P), a compound that promotes cell growth but which can also lead to inflammation.This is where the fire ant venom new Psoriasis Treatment comes in.Having observed the molecular similarities between solenopsins and ceramides, dermatologist Jack Arbiser and his team developed two analogues of the venom ingredient that looked like ceramides, but which didn’t have the ability to convert into S1P.To test the analogues, they mixed them into skin creams (with the active molecule making up 1 percent of the cream) and applied them to mice bred to have psoriasis-like skin called KC-Tie2 mice.

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