Dupilumab: A Breakthrough in Eczema Treatment

If you have eczema–especially if you haven’t found an effective treatment for your unbearably itchy skin–you may want to schedule an appointment with your dermatologist soon. For the first time in decades, there is a promising new treatment for eczema on the horizon.

Woman scratching her neck, isolated on whiteDupilumab is being heralded as a breakthrough medication. The research is very promising, and physicians are hopeful that they can begin to offer the new medicine to eczema sufferers as soon as 2017. But is this new treatment all it promises to be? Will dupilumab be the cure for eczema?

What is dupilumab?

Dupilumab is a treatment in a new medicine class called biologics. It treats inflamed skin systemically, rather than topically. Dupilumab is given as a shot every other week to calm the immune system. It targets specific signaling pathways of the immune system that researchers believe cause the inflamed skin of eczema.

How has dupilumab been tested in clinical trials?

Dupilumab has gone through several clinical trials to test its effectiveness and has demonstrated convincing results at each phase. “In its most recent testing, Phase 3, researchers selected 1,379 subjects with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis and randomly assigned them to receive dupilumab or a placebo,” explains Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board certified dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology. “Those patients who were given dupilumab showed significant symptom improvement compared to those who were given the placebo.”

When will dupilumab come on the U.S. market?

Dupilumab has received the FDA “breakthrough” drug label and is on the fast-track for approval. It’s considered a breakthrough because the medications currently used to treat eczema, such as topical steroid creams, have many potential side effects and are often not effective. “With as many as 10% of the population suffering from eczema, there is a clear need for a new and better treatment,” says Dr. Mamelak. With fast-tracking, dupilumab could be approved in early 2017.

Who will be a good candidate for dupilumab therapy?

Dupilumab is currently being tested for treatment of the more severe form of atopic eczema. Additionally, patients whose eczema is treatment resistant are potential candidates for dupilumab therapy. Dupilumab is also being tested for treatment of other inflammatory conditions such as asthma and nasal polyps.

While “cure” is probably too strong a word to use at this time, dupilumab has certainly shown tremendous potential. In trials, it cleared the skin, decreased disease severity and itching, and improved mental health and quality of life for those who were treated with it–quite a feat for an eczema medication.

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