In the early research on Xanelim, 61 individuals with severe psoriasis that covered a large portion of their bodies were given once-weekly injections of the drug for 12 weeks. Using a standard scale to measure the severity of psoriasis, most participants improved by at least 50%, according to Leonardi. Doctors' overall assessment of these individuals improved as well, and various laboratory tests also indicated that the drug was working.
Best of all, the side effects of the drug were minimal, Leonardi said in his presentation. A few participants experienced mild headache and muscle aches early on, but these disappeared as treatment continued. The drug did not appear to have any problematic effect on the blood or on major organs, which is a big improvement from currently available drugs.
"It's not a subtle drug," Leonardi says. "It's very evident who is responding. After four to five weeks, you see dramatic changes in their psoriasis and in the patient's demeanor, even. It's very cute to watch them come in, and they start wearing different clothing. During the summer, they start wearing shorts. They start saying things like it's the first time they've gone to the public pool in 30 years or it's the first time their grandchildren have seen them without psoriasis. So the psychosocial aspects of this are tremendous."
"This sounds very interesting. I think it has potential," Janee Steinberg, MD, tells WebMD after reviewing a summary of the study. "The disease is really devastating for those who have it extensively. People spend millions each year trying to cure their psoriasis, and instead they get just a remission for a period of time. Some of the things we do now have some serious consequences, so it would be great to find a new way to treat psoriasis. ... [However,] you have to have serious psoriasis that has not responded to other treatments in order to take this [internal] type of medication [rather than a cream]" Steinberg is a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of the Advanced Cosmetic Laser Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.