Antibody Therapy Shows Promise in Halting Psoriasis

Experimental treatment blocks signaling protein.

Experimental treatment blocks signaling protein.

A new treatment for psoriasis may halt the condition before the development of psoriatic arthritis.

In a recent trial, patients with psoriasis experienced a significant recovery after a single dose of an experimental treatment that utilizes a human antibody to block an immune signaling protein that is crucial to the disease. At the conclusion of the trial, which was conducted at Rockefeller University and 7 other sites, nearly all 31 patients who received the treatment saw a “dramatic, if not complete” improvement in the symptoms of the condition.

"The striking result we achieved using a human antibody that targets the signal interleukin-23 suggests we are on the threshold of doing something very different from our current model of treating psoriasis with immunosuppressive drugs throughout an adult lifetime," study author James Krueger, director of the Milstein Medical Research Program, said in a press release. "It raises the possibility of working toward long-term remission -- in other words, a cure."

The results of the trial were published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on March 12, 2015.

In a prior study conducted in 2004, Krueger and colleagues indicated that the immune signaling molecule interleukin-23 may play a significant role in psoriasis, with subsequent research supporting that hypothesis. Investigators found that interleukin-23 initiates a chain of interactions that causes skin inflammation, excessive skin cell growth, and blood vessel dilation.

A number of new antibody-based therapies have since been tested that target interleukin-23. For the current study, the researchers evaluated the human antibody called BI 655066, which targets interleukin-23 and prevents it from binding to cell receptors that respond to it.

This single treatment generated what the researchers described as "rapid, substantial, and durable clinical improvement in patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis."

Patients treated with the antibody showed an average of more than 80% improvement in the severity and extent of skin lesions, which continued until the tracking ended 6 weeks following treatment. Additionally, genetic sequencing from skin samples showed the action of BI 655066 decreased the expression of numerous cytokines and other molecules that define psoriasis.