A trail of a new drug has reported quick and extensive improvement of the psoriasis skin condition, offering hope to thousands of people suffering from the disease.
The details published in The Lancet
journal showed that 40% of people reported a complete clearance of psoriatic plaques after 12 weeks of treatment with the new drug and over 90% showed improvement.
People with psoriasis develop thick, red skin with flaky, silver-white patches called scales which can be itchy for sufferers.
"The visible effects of psoriasis can have a major and life-ruining impact on people's confidence and self-esteem," said lead researcher Chris Griffiths, professor of dermatology at University of Manchester in Britain.
The research tested 2,500 people with psoriasis. Half were given a new drug - ixekizumab - either once every two or four weeks. The other half were given a placebo or a widely used drug for psoriasis called etanercept.
"What we saw in this trial was not just the physical aspects of the disease clearing up, but people on the new drug also reporting a marked improvement in their quality of life as they felt more confident and suffered less from itching - far more than in the other two groups," Griffiths added.
Around half of these patients in the trial showed improvement as early as week four of the trial and up to 71% had shown a high level of improvement, as measured using a scale called the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index, by week 12.
Ixekizumab is a monoclonal antibody - a cloned antibody - which neutralizes the inflammatory effects of an interleukin (IL) a protein in the skin which carries signals to cells - known as (IL)-17A.
This protein is increasingly becoming recognized as one of the causes of the characteristic red, scaly plaques of psoriasis.