Biologic medications, first introduced in the late 1990s, were a game changer for psoriasis. Biologics target elements of the immune system which otherwise lead to inflammation of the skin and/or joints. With biologics an option on the prescription pad, health care providers finally had a tool to confront both psoriasis symptoms as well as the root cause of inflammation.
Over the past nearly two decades, the understanding and application of biologics has been refined and expanded, to the benefit of the 2-3% of the population who face this chronic skin disorder typified by areas of thickened, inflamed, scaly, red skin.
In a current article in the journal Dermatologic Clinics, dermatology researchers note today’s choices of biological therapies for psoriasis have a robust body of clinical research supporting their long-term use and include (but are not limited to):
- Etanercept (Enbrel)
- Infliximab (Remicade)
- Adalimumab (Humira)
- Ustekinumab (Stelara)
Biologics for psoriasis generally work by targeting either tumor necrosis factor alpha or interleukin (IL)-12/23 cytokines. These medications are injected or infused either at home or by a nurse.
Biologics for psoriasis continue to be a lively field of research, with promising new therapies in various stages of development, such as brodalumab, ixekizumab, and secukinumab which specifically target interleukin [IL]-17 and guselkumab and tildrakizumab, which specifically target IL-23.
Psoriasis patients will soon benefit from even more options to block immune responses gone awry in this disease.
Leonardi C, Romiti r, Tebbey PW. Ten Years On: the impact of biologics on the practice of dermatology. Dermatol Clin 2015;33:111-25.