New Medication Shows Promise in Treating Common Skin Disease

Jul. 10, 2014

UR scientist Lisa Beck, M.D., led a clinical investigation for a new drug to treat eczema or atopic dermatitis, with encouraging results that were reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

itchyAbout 3.4 million U.S. adults suffer from moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, with symptoms that include severe dryness, red lesions that may crust or ooze, skin thickening, and intense itching that may lead to wounds, infections and sleep disturbance. People with AD are more likely to have asthma or other allergies. Current treatments for AD are topical and oral steroids and phototherapy, but their effectiveness is limited and side effects associated with their chronic use are significant.

The NEJM publication included data from several Phase 1 and Phase 2 placebo-controlled studies of a new, injectable drug, dupilumab, which gave patients marked and rapid improvement. A monoclonal antibody, dupilumab blocks the action of two proteins involved in inflammation, interleukin-4 and interleukin-13.

The New York Times quoted Beck as saying the new drug appears to be safe and gives hope to patients who aren’t helped by existing treatments.

The study’s findings set the stage for Phase 3 clinical trials of dupilumab, to confirm its effectiveness, monitor side effects, and compare it to commonly used treatments.

Dupilumab was developed by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Sanofi. Beck, professor of Dermatology and Medicine, has served as a consultant for both companies, which funded the studies.

To read the full NEJM report, click here.