Skip to content

    Psoriasis Health Center

    Font Size

    New Hope for the Heartbreak of Psoriasis?

    WebMD Health News

    March 19, 2001 -- Your skin is scaly, bumpy, red, and itchy. You see your doctor, who diagnoses you with psoriasis. What do you do? If your condition is severe, your options are limited, but research into new drugs is providing new hope.

    Psoriasis is a condition in which patches of the skin become inflamed, red, itchy, and topped with silvery white scales. Believed to be caused by a malfunction of the immune system in which the normal growth of skin cells is sped up, psoriasis is both unsightly and uncomfortable. For most people, psoriasis is limited to a few patches, called plaques, usually around the joints, which can be managed fairly well with creams. Those with more severe psoriasis, however, may become almost completely covered with plaques and must take medicines -- either in pill form alone or combined with a form of light therapy -- to control it.

    Still, there are few effective remedies for severe psoriasis, and those that exist can cause serious side effects, including liver and kidney damage. Individuals who must take these drugs have to be monitored regularly by their doctors to make sure they are not seriously damaging their internal organs.

    The good news is that several new options to treat severe psoriasis are on the horizon. These include improved creams, new drugs, and even laser therapy. One of these new drugs, which will be marketed by its manufacturer, Genentech Inc., as Xanelim, is showing great promise in early research, which was presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology 57th Annual Meeting on Monday.

    "There are an estimated 7 million [people with psoriasis] in the U.S., of which approximately 2 million are thought to have moderate to severe disease," Xanelim's lead researcher Craig Leonardi, MD, tells WebMD. "These patients have been waiting for a long, long time for a new approach for this severe and disabling condition. Many of these patients have actually disengaged from the healthcare system because they've grown discouraged with the treatment options. ... Medicines such as Xanelim offer a convenient and safe alternative treatment for them. It's going to be a very significant drug when it's finally approved." Leonardi is a dermatologist in private practice who works with Radiant Research in St. Louis. He also is on the clinical faculty at St. Louis University School of Medicine.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    Woman sitting in front of UV lights
    About 7.5 million people in the U.S. Get the facts.
    stress and psoriasis
    What might spark your psoriasis today?
    woman bathing
    Slideshow: Home Remedies For Psoriasis
    woman applying lotion
    It starts in the immune system. Read on.
    Top Psoriasis Treatments To Try At Home
    Woman sitting in front of UV lights
    Beware Miracle Diets For Psoriasis
    Psoriasis Laser Therapy
    10 Questions About Psoriasis To Ask Your Doctor
    psoriasis on elbow
    Psoriasis (Moderate to Severe)
    Psoriatic Arthritis Do You Know The Symptoms