First-of-its-kind treatment shown to have ‘dramatic’ effect on children with eczema – ScienceAlert

Eczema (or atopic dermatitis) affects millions of people, especially children under the age of six.

Chronic inflammatory skin disorder causes the skin to become red and dry and start to ooze and itch, making life very uncomfortable.

There is currently no cure for the condition, only ways to manage it, but an existing drug is incredibly effective at reducing the signs and symptoms of eczema in children under the age of six with moderate to severe cases of the disorder.

It is the first time that a complex biologic drug like this has been tested in this age group.

The drug in question is dupilumab. In a new study, 162 American and European children aged 6 months to 6 years with moderate to severe eczema received either dupilumab or a placebo over 16 weeks.

More than half of the children who received the drug showed a 75% reduction in the severity of their symptoms. The itching was significantly reduced and the children were able to sleep much better.

“Preschoolers who scratch constantly, wake up several times a night with their parents, irritable and markedly reduced in their ability to do what other children their age can do, improved as they sleep throughout the night, they change personalities and have normal lives, as babies and children should,” says dermatologist Amy Paller of Northwestern University in Illinois.

Dupilumab targets an important immune inflammation pathway in allergies and is already used to treat eczema in older children and adults, as well as asthma, nasal polyps and other allergy-mediated problems.

Until now, it had not been approved as safe or confirmed to be effective for children under the age of six: around 19% of this demographic is thought to have eczema, while 85 to 90 % of those who develop eczema in their lifetime see it. the first signs before the age of five.

About a third of this age group with eczema has a moderate to severe case of this itchy, debilitating disorder – these kids can’t sleep well, which has all sorts of effects and consequences.

While immunosuppressive drugs such as oral steroids are often used for severe cases of eczema, there are concerns about their suitability for young children, both in terms of short-term side effects and complications for long-term health, according to Paller.

“The group in which we are most concerned about safety, the under-fives, had not been tested and could not get [dupilumab]Paller says. “The effect for most of these younger children is dramatic and at least as good as we’ve seen with risky immunosuppressive drugs.”

Dupilumab already has an “excellent” safety profile and no further laboratory testing is required. It is now available for children up to 6 months of age, and a parent or healthcare professional can administer the drug through a monthly injection.

What’s more, researchers think it could also have preventive effects. Because it requires such an aggressive approach to quieting the immune system’s inflammatory response, there’s a good chance it will also protect against other allergy problems that develop later in life.

Dupilumab could even be useful for treating other health problems in younger children, the researchers suggest, although further studies will be needed to establish how effective it might be.

“The ability to take this drug will significantly improve the quality of life for infants and young children who suffer tremendously from this disease,” says Paller.

“Atopic dermatitis or eczema is much more than an itchy skin. It is a devastating disease. The quality of life of severe eczema, not only for the child but also for the parents, is equivalent to many diseases that life threatening.”

The research was sponsored by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi, who jointly developed dupilumab, and the study has been published in The Lancet.

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