New Treatment Research in Psoriasis

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Latest Research in Psoriasis

Treatment of Psoriasis has metamorphosed from the good old charcoal to treatment using ultra violet light. Researchers are trying to explore the linkages of the disease with genetic and immunological factors. Thrust is towards developing new long term solutions with least side effects. Although expensive, biologic agents are being used in the research. NPF, IPC and some other organizations of international level are making efforts to make sure that new drugs reach the patients of Psoriasis.

The New Drugs

Two new biologic agents, being studied, are currently used for treating Psoriasis. They are Anti TNF drugs and T Cell Agents

Some of the Anti –TNF agents are given as under

  1. Etanercept: This TNF receptor is human soluble. It is used for treating Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis. Sixty percent of patients have reported improvement with it, albeit at a slower rate. Weekly doses need to be consumed for one year. No side effects have been reported.

  2. Adalimumab: It is a recombinant antibody and binds with TNF. FDA has approved this drug to be used for Psoriatic Arthritis on 02 October 2005. Administration of this drug is similar to Infliximab. Weekly dosage to patients has given excellent results within a year.

  3. Infliximab: Given as an intravenous injection this drug is a chimeric monoclonal antibody. It has a three dose schedule for six weeks. Remarkable results where in 85% Psoriasis patients have reported cure from the disease after three administrations have been seen. Within a period of one year 60% of patients have reported a near clear cure.

Some of the T- cell biologic agents are as under

  1. Alefacept: This immunosuppressant fusion protein inhibits the T cells. It also destroys the damaged cells and replaces them which is called apoptosis. It is given as an intra muscular injection. One cycle of treatment is 12 weeks. The results from this treatment are not as good as TNF. About 10% of the Psoriasis patients have reported total cure. Recent reports have shown that when combined with methotrexate it is also effective for psoriatic joint disease. Alefacept is known to be very safe and has shown least side effects.

  1. Efalizumab: Efalizumab is a moraine antibody. T -cell activation is reduced by blocking the interaction between LFA-1 and ICAM-1. The outflow of activated T-cells through the endothelium of blood vessels into the skin is repressed. From the therapeutic point of view, Efalizumab is known to give responses within 24 weeks. This is approximately equal to that of Etanercept. This means that about 66% of patients have shown noteworthy improvement within two to four weeks of the administration of subcutaneous injections.It is also a very safe drug, with very rare cases of thrombocytopenia. 5% of patients have reported of aggravation of Psoriasis. This could involve treatment by methotrexate or cyclosporine.

Other new drug research

A new group of drugs known as interleukin (IL)-12 p40 antibodies is being tested. It is a human anti-IL-12/IL-23 monoclonal antibody. It specially acts on the the p40 sub-unit, which is a component of both IL-12 and IL-23 cytokines. In the initial two phases of the study a single injection of anti-IL-12 p40 has shown outstanding results. About two-thirds of patients have reported major cure between eight and 16 weeks. Phase 3 of studies are underway. This drug is likely to become a major competitor to the T-cell and anti-TNF agents. Abbott Laboratories and Centocor, Inc are doing the research.

Unfortunately about a quarter of the Psoriasis patients are not taking any systematic treatment. Cost of the treatment is also a major issue. The issues related to quality of life of Psoriasis patients have also not been well understood by the people who fund the research. Nevertheless Psoriasis treatment is undergoing a miraculous revolution today.