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Dec. 17 JAMA study shows new 'biologic' drug reduces psoriasis symptoms, improves quality of life

MAYWOOD, Ill. A new "biologic" drug, efalizumab, reduces the thick, red, scaly skin lesions of psoriasis, and improves patient quality of life, according to a study in the Dec. 17 Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Biologics are a new approach to treating psoriasis," said lead author Dr. Kenneth Gordon, director of the Loyola Psoriasis Center, Loyola University Health System, Maywood, Ill. "The symptom relief with biologics is achieved without many of the side effects of traditional psoriasis treatment."

Gordon and colleagues conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of efalizumab on 556 adult psoriasis patients at 30 centers in the U.S. and Canada. Patients received weekly injections of the drug or a placebo for three months. Researchers assessed the extent of the psoriasis on the head, upper and lower limbs, and trunk of each patient. In addition, they rated the degree of scaling and thickness.

"Psoriasis is triggered by an immune system response that induces skin cells to grow too quickly," said Gordon, associate professor of medicine, division of dermatology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill. "The skin cells also do not mature normally. As a result, the skin piles up and forms red, scaly, thick plaque lesions.

For the study, patients completed a questionnaire asking how psoriasis affects their daily life, work and their relationships. They also reported symptoms, including pain, itching, bleeding, burning and scaling.

"Biologics are injected, instead of swallowed, and block immune cells that produce the dry, flaky skin," said Gordon, who serves on the National Psoriasis Foundation's medical board. Efalizumab modulates T-cells. Found in the blood supply, T-cells bolster the body's immune response.

The researchers evaluated the effects of efalizumab on health-related quality of life measures from both patient and physician perspective. "Psoria
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Contact: Joanne Swanson
jswanson@lumc.edu
708-216-2445
Loyola University Health System
16-Dec-2003


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