New therapeutic option against eczema successfully tested
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin disease that has become more prevalent in recent decades. Although mild forms of the disease can often be treated relatively well with external treatments, there is still little hope for people suffering from severe atopic dermatitis. This could change soon, thanks to a new form of therapy.
"The disease affects about 11% of all pre-school girls and boys and 1-2% of adults in Germany, many of the diseases are chronic and difficult," reports the Hannover Medical School (MHH ). Affected people suffer from dry, flaky and reddened skin, with painful itching and if the affected areas are clearly visible, a social stigma is added. Therefore, effective treatment options are urgently needed, but these were not yet available for the serious forms of the disease. However, researchers from the MHH and the University of Veterinary Medicine of Hanover (TiHo) have successfully tested a new approach. Their findings have been published in the journal "Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology".
Severe only partially treatable eczema
"Atopic dermatitis has several causes, including irritants, allergens and microbial, hormonal and psychological influences," the experts explain. In the treatment of cortisone compounds and the so-called calcineurin inhibitors to be applied externally it has been of fundamental importance. According to experts, only the immunosuppressive cyclosporine, which has many side effects, and the dupilumab antibody are available for the treatment of particularly severe forms.
Dupilumab slightly difficult in use
Dupilumab has been available for the targeted inhibition of allergic inflammatory messengers for about a year and "represents a huge step forward in the treatment of critically ill patients," says Professor Dr. med. Thomas Werfel from the MHH Clinic for Dermatology, Allergology and Venereology. However, it does not help all patients well enough. In addition, the drug must be injected, which is particularly difficult to tolerate in children who are more likely to suffer from eczema. The new drug, now tested, is however intended for oral use.
New active ingredient for oral use
The new active ingredient, which can be taken as a tablet, has significantly improved the appearance of the skin in tests on 98 patients. "Already after eight weeks, the percentage of diseased skin such as redness, blisters and scratch marks is reduced by half," said MHH. The drug is a "histamine-4 receptor blocker". This stops the inflammation process and relieves itching by preventing the messenger histamine from acting on the corresponding cells.
Receptor of histamine-4 with a key role
"The laboratory and in vivo results on the murine model, which we publish continuously since 2005, have suggested that the histamine-4 receptor is an interesting target for the treatment of atopic dermatitis", explains prof. Werfel. Since then, researchers have intensively studied the use of inflammatory skin diseases. "We assume that the histamine-4 receptor blocker functions independently of the cause of atopic dermatitis and is currently investigating which patients benefit most from the new therapy," said Professor Werfel.
No side effects were noted
According to the scientists, in the present study no side effects were observed due to the administration of the drug and now, with the participation of the team of Hannover, a larger international study with about 400 patients will begin to find the optimal dosage of this drug. "We have been working together on this topic for many years, and the project is an excellent example of translational research, or interdisciplinary medical research, with the goal of transferring results as quickly as possible in clinical applications," said Professor Dr. med. Manfred Kietzmann from the Institute of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmacy of TiHo. (FP)