Magazine article Science News

Getting the Red Out: Drug Improves Kids' Psoriasis Symptoms

Magazine article Science News

Getting the Red Out: Drug Improves Kids' Psoriasis Symptoms

Article excerpt

A rheumatoid arthritis drug can clear up psoriasis in most children, a new study finds. The report might be enough to cinch regulatory approval for the drug, etanercept, as the first systemic medication for psoriasis in youngsters.

Psoriasis results from runaway inflammation that promotes excess skin-cell growth, creating thick red patches all over the body. Currently approved treatments such as skin creams and ultraviolet light often provide only limited help for children with psoriasis.

To test etanercept, an anti-inflammatory drug previously approved for treating psoriasis in adults, researchers enlisted 211 children ages 4 to 17 who had moderate to severe disease. On average, the children had patches covering one-fifth of their bodies.

The children received a weekly injection of either the drug or a placebo for 12 weeks. At that point, 53 percent of those receiving etanercept had "clear or almost clear" skin, according to doctors treating them, compared with only 13 percent of those getting placebo shots. More precise measurements found that the area of affected skin fell by at least 50 percent in three quarters of the children getting etanercept, says study coauthor Amy Paller, a dermatologist at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago.

After 12 weeks, everyone in the study was offered the drug. "Pretty much all of them improved," says Craig Leonardi, a dermatologist at Saint Louis University. He was one of dozens of U.S. and Canadian doctors who treated and monitored children as part of the study. …

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