New Eczema Drug Promising in Early Trial
Nemolizumab significantly reduced the itch and improved appearance of skin
By Steven Reinberg
THURSDAY, March 2, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental drug may significantly reduce the itching and improve the appearance of moderate to severe eczema, a new, preliminary trial finds.
Nemolizumab is a man-made, injectable antibody that acts against the protein that has been identified as playing a part in eczema, the international team of researchers said.
"The treatments for atopic dermatitis [eczema] have been disappointing because of their lack of efficacy and the long-term side effects," said Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She had no role in the study.
"There are also issues with compliance, since the products often need to be applied to broad areas multiple times a day," she added.
Since this is a chronic condition, continued treatment is usually needed to maintain results, Day explained.
"The goal is to find a non-steroid treatment that is easy to follow, and with reliable results and minimal adverse effects," she said.
While the hope is always for a cure, the results of this trial "are encouraging and give hope to those suffering from moderate to severe atopic dermatitis [eczema] for an effective treatment to control their condition with good long-term outcomes," Day said.
The study was published March 2 in the New England Journal of Medicine and was funded by Tokyo-based Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., the maker of nemolizumab.
Most types of eczema cause dry, itchy skin and rashes on the face, inside the elbows, behind the knees, and on the hands and feet. Scratching can cause the rash to turn red, swell and itch even more, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Eczema is not contagious. Its cause is not known, but is likely due to both genetic and environmental factors. It may get better or worse over time, but it is often a long-lasting disease.
In this 12-week trial, a team lead by Dr. Thomas Ruzicka, from the department of dermatology and allergology at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, randomly assigned 264 patients with moderate to severe eczema to one of three injectable doses of nemolizumab or placebo.