What is Stelera and Why Does it Work for Treating Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an extremely common condition that is believed to affect 2-3% of the population. These scaly and itchy thick plaques of skin commonly appear on the scalp, elbows, knees, and groin, but really all areas of the body can be affected.
“It’s not just about the skin,” claims Dr. Adam Mamelak, board-certified dermatologist in Austin. “Yes, there are certainly other health concerns. Up to 40% of patients with psoriasis can develop arthritis and more and more data shows that psoriasis is associated with high cholesterol and heart disease. these are serious concerns. But even still, often the biggest issue is how socially disabling this condition can be.”
Dr. Mamelak is referring to psychological impact psoriasis can have on many of those afflicted. The feelings of embarrassment and self-consciousness and often leading to social withdrawal, studies have shown that psoriasis can impact an individual’s quality of life as much as having severe heart disease or even having cancer!
The good news is with newer treatment options, patients’ battle with psoriasis have made significant gains. Newer biological treatments that target specific molecules involved in the disease have shown impressive results in controlling this skin condition.
Stelera is part of a class of drugs known as biologicals. It is manufactured by Janssen Biotech Inc., which is affiliated with Johnson & Johnson. The company is based in Pennsylvania and has been manufacturing biological medications for more than three decades. Their prescription drug, Stelera, has been on the market for some time now. It is a U.S. FDA approved, subcutaneous injection for the treatment of plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. It is also marketed under the name Ustekinumab and is sometimes paired with the drug known as Methotrexate. At this time, the drug is only suitable for select, adult populations, and is approved for the treatment of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
As mentioned, Stelera works differently than other psoriasis drugs in one key way. It targets two specific molecules known as cytokines. These cytokines are produced by a person’s immune system as opposed to taking a blanket approach towards the problem. The two cytokines targeted by the biological are interleukin-23 and interleukin-12.
Both of those cytokines tend to be found in the lesions associated with plaque psoriasis as well as in the afflicted individual’s blood. Because of that the two cytokines are believed to contribute to the stiffness, swelling and skin eruptions that occur during a plaque psoriasis outbreak. Stelera essentially stops those two cytokines from taking hold of a person’s immune system. As a result, the person taking the drug tends to experience less scaling, joint pain, inflammation, plaque thickness and skin redness.
“One of the best things about this treatment is how easy it is to use,” says Dr. Mamelak. “No one likes frequent injections or infusions, and remembering to take a pill everyday is sometimes difficult. With this medicine, a patient only needs to perform a small injections, just below the skin, every 3 months.”
To learn more about Stelera and how it may help alleviate your plaque psoriasis related concerns, please contact us at Sanova Dermatology or (512) 837-3376 to schedule a consultation with one of our dermatology experts.
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