Conference Coverage

Severity, itch improvements remain steady with ruxolitinib for atopic dermatitis



– A cream-based formulation of the Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor ruxolitinib maintained its efficacy in the 4-week open-label period of a 16-week randomized phase 2 study of adults with mild to moderate atopic dermatitis (AD), Leon H. Kircik, MD, said at the World Congress of Dermatology.

Improvements in disease severity and itch in patients receiving 1.5% ruxolitinib cream twice daily were sustained over the open-label period, said Dr. Kircik, a dermatologist in Louisville, Ky., affiliated with Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York.

Patients who switched from vehicle or 0.1% triamcinolone cream to the JAK1/2 selective inhibitor in the open-label period also experienced rapid improvements in disease severity and itch.

“This is a novel treatment that’s a topical JAK inhibitor, which so far we don’t have any in the market for atopic dermatitis, and it does have a very good efficacy and safety profile,” Dr. Kircik said during an oral presentation at the meeting.

Janus kinases modulate inflammatory cytokines implicated in AD, and may also directly modulate itch, Dr. Kircik noted.

The study comprised 307 adults with mild to moderate AD (Investigator’s Global Assessment [IGA] score of 2 or 3) and body surface area involvement of 3%-20%. They were randomized equally to six arms, including vehicle, triamcinolone cream, and ruxolitinib at dosages of 0.15%, 0.5%, 1.5% once daily, or the target dose level of 1.5% twice daily.

After an 8-week double-blind period, there was a 4-week open-label period during which patients randomized to vehicle or triamcinolone were switched to ruxolitinib, and then a 4-week follow-up period during which no treatment was given, Dr. Kircik said.

The mean age of the patients was 35 years, 54% were female, and the median duration of disease was 20.8 years.

In the double-blind period, 1.5% ruxolitinib cream twice daily significantly improved Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) score versus vehicle, Dr. Kircik said.

The mean change in EASI scores at weeks 2, 4, and 6 were 52.7%, 71.6%, and 78.5% for ruxolitinib, versus 4.8%, 15.5%, and 26.9% for vehicle (P less than .001 for all comparisons), according to Dr. Kircik.

The patients on the target ruxolitinib dose maintained the improvements in EASI score throughout the open label period, with mean improvement from baseline reaching 81.4% by week 10 and 84.9% by week 12.

Meanwhile, there was a sharp increase in mean EASI score improvement in patients switched to ruxolitinib, according to Dr. Kircik. In the vehicle arm, mean improvement leapt from 26.9% at week 8 to 78.4% by week 12.

Significant reductions in itch scores were seen within 36 hours of starting the 1.5% ruxolitinib cream, with itch Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) scores of –1.8 versus –0.2 for vehicle at that time point (P less than .0001), he added.

Reduction in itch score was similarly maintained in the ruxolitinib target dose group, and rapidly fell to similar levels for patients switched over to that treatment in the open-label period, Dr. Kircik said.

The target ruxolitinib dose was also noninferior to triamcinolone cream, for which mean change in EASI scores at weeks 2 and 4 were 40.0% and 59.8%, respectively.

Recruitment of patients in phase 3 studies of ruxolitinib cream for AD has just started, Dr. Kircik said.

The TRuE AD1 and TRuE AD2 studies are set to enroll 1,200 adolescents and adults with AD who will be randomized to ruxolitinib cream or vehicle, according to listings on

Dr. Kircik disclosed ties to several companies including Incyte, which was the sponsor of the phase 2 study and the phase 3 studies.

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