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New Psoriasis Drug Looks Promising in Trials


If you suffer with plaque psoriasis, help may be on the way—but you must be patient. The results of three Phase II trials showed that a new psoriasis drug, secukinumab, produced rapid and significant symptom improvement in patients with moderate to severe disease.

The new psoriasis drug helped most patients

Plaque psoriasis is the most common of the five types of psoriasis. Approximately 5.5 million people in the United States and 2% of the world’s population overall have the skin condition, which is characterized by red, inflamed skin covered with silvery scales.

The oval to circular shaped red plaques can burn or itch and most often appear on the knees and elbows, although they can also be found on the trunk, arms, legs, or scalp. About 30% of people with plaque psoriasis have moderate to severe disease, and it can cause significant disruption to quality of life.

Results of the new trials, which were presented at the annual European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, were promising. In one study, 81% of the patients who received secukinumab subcutaneously once a month had at least a 75% improvement in psoriasis at 12 weeks compared with 9% in the placebo group.

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The second trial involved intravenous secukinumab, and the results at 12 weeks were similar: 83% of patients experienced at least a 75% improvement compared with 10% of those on placebo. The third study showed that patients receiving secukinumab in the first month was helpful to 55% of patients compared with 2% in the placebo group at week 12.

Secukinumab (AIN457) is a fully human, targeted monoclonal antibody designed to quickly attach to and neutralize an inflammatory substance called interleukin-17A. In the Phase II trials, 60% of patients who were given AIN457 experienced adverse events in the first 12 weeks compared to 61% who were given placebo.

According to one of the investigators, Dr. Kim Papp, dermatologist and Director of Research at Probity Medical Research, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, “These data suggest that AIN457 could potentially bring about a considerable improvement in the lives of patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis by producing a rapid response and substantial relief of symptoms.”

Investigators have already started Phase III trials of the promising new psoriasis drug. In a company release, John Hohneker, Global Head of Development for Integrated Hospital Care at Novartis noted that “Novartis is committed to providing new treatment options for patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis, who face significant daily physical discomfort as well as the serious psychological impact of living with this disease.”

Novartis news release