Conference Coverage

New atopic dermatitis agents expand treatment options



GRAND CAYMAN, CAYMAN ISLANDS Atopic dermatitis (AD) researchers are serving up a lot more than oatmeal and steroids these days.

Moisturizers that confer skin barrier protection, lipid-replenishing topicals, and some biologics are available now or will soon be available for patients with AD, Joseph Fowler Jr., MD, said at the Caribbean Dermatology Symposium provided by Global Academy for Medical Education.

With the approval of dupilumab for moderate to severe disease in 2017, a biologic finally became available for treating AD, said Dr. Fowler of the University of Louisville (Ky.). While it’s not a cure and may take as long as 6 months to really kick in, “I think almost everyone gets some benefit from it. And although it’s not approved yet for anyone under 18, I’m sure it will be.”

He provided a brief rundown of dupilumab; crisaborole, another relatively new agent for AD; and some agents that are being investigated.

  • Dupilumab. For AD, dupilumab, which inhibits interleukin-4 and interleukin-13 signaling, is usually started at 600 mg, then tapered to 300 mg subcutaneously every 2 weeks. Its pivotal data showed a mean 70% decrease in Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) scores over 16 weeks at that dose.*

“Again, I would say most patients do get benefit from this, but they might not see it for more than 3 months, and even up to 6 months. I’m not sure why, but some develop eye symptoms – I think these are more severe cases who also have respiratory atopy. I would also be interested to see if dupilumab might work on patients with chronic hand eczema,” he said.

  • Crisaborole ointment 2%. A nonsteroidal topical phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitor approved in 2016 for mild to moderate AD in people aged 2 and older, crisaborole (Eucrisa) blocks the release of cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), which is elevated in AD. Lower cAMP levels lead to lower levels of inflammatory cytokines. In its pivotal phase 3 study, about 35% of patients achieved clinical success – an Investigator’s Static Global Assessment (ISGA) score of 0 or 1, or at least a two-grade improvement over baseline.

“In my opinion, it’s similar or slightly better than topical corticosteroids, and safer as well, especially in our younger patients, or when the face or intertriginous areas are involved,” Dr. Fowler said. “There is often some application site stinging and burning. If you put it in the fridge and get it good and cold when it goes on, that seems to moderate the sensation. It’s a good steroid-sparing option.”

Crisaborole is now being investigated for use in infants aged 3-24 months with mild to moderate AD.

  • Tofacitinib ointment. This topical form of tofacitinib, an inhibitor of Janus kinase 1 and 3, is being evaluated in a placebo-controlled trial in adults with mild to moderate AD. There are also a few reports of oral tofacitinib improving AD, including a case report (Clin Exp Dermatol. 2017 Dec;42[8]:942-4). Dr. Fowler noted a small series of six adults with moderate to severe AD uncontrolled with methotrexate or azathioprine. The patients received oral tofacitinib 5 mg twice a day for 8-29 weeks; there was a mean 67% improvement in the Scoring Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) index.
  • Ustekinumab. The interleukin-12 and -23 antagonist indicated for moderate to severe psoriasis has also made an appearance in the AD literature, including an Austrian report of three patients with severe AD who received 45 mg of ustekinumab (Stelara) subcutaneously at 0, 4 and 12 weeks. By week 16, all of them experienced a 50% reduction in their EASI score, with a marked reduction in interleukin-22 markers (J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017 Jan;76[1]:91-7.e3).

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