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New Hope for the Heartbreak of Psoriasis?

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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.

Xanelim is still being tested by Genentech for its safety and effectiveness. Participants in the new study are injecting themselves at home, much in the way diabetes sufferers inject themselves with insulin.

If future studies continue to go as planned, the company hopes to submit the drug to the FDA for approval in the late fall.

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