Times are changing and modern medicine is advancing at a revolutionary pace. For those who have, or know someone who has psoriasis, we can only hope that this means we’re on the cutting edge of new breakthroughs.
Luckily, several new studies show promising results, and today, we’re here to share those findings with you. But first, let’s discuss the challenges.
Why don’t we know more?
Would you believe that the first documented description of psoriasis dates back to the Roman Empire in the 1st century AD?
You’d think that after centuries of knowing about psoriasis, more, and better treatments for the chronic condition would be available - or at the very least, more solid information about how it develops, and why it progresses.
Interestingly enough, psoriasis, as well as effective treatments, is difficult to study as experiments in mice have been largely inconclusive.
For example, in one 2017 study in a case looking at mouse models of psoriasis and their relevance, researchers found that even with severe skin lesions, the mice did not develop arthritis. This, researchers said, was due to the absence of a key suppressor cytokine that’s found in humans.
Because psoriasis does not naturally occur in laboratory animals, researchers are only able to examine specific aspects of the condition, which, unfortunately, don’t accurately represent the entire disease. But nonetheless, scientists continue to search for answers.
Biologics are making a name for themselves in the psoriasis community right now, and here’s why.
Biologics are a different form of a traditional systemic drug. Instead of targeting the entire immune system, they target specific parts.
Biologics block the action of immune cells (T-cells) and certain proteins that play a role in the development of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA).
In clinical trials, each of the several FDA approved biologics lowered psoriasis activity by at least 75% in many people.
And according to the National Psoriasis Foundation, biologics can be used in conjunction with other psoriasis treatments.
The catch? The treatments can be costly.
So instead, many psoriatic users are exploring a similar option… biosimilars.
Much like biologics, biosimilars have been engineered to lower psoriasis activity. Biosimilars are also given in the same form as biologics - as an injection or intravenous drip.
First approved by the FDA in 2016, biosimilars have been listed as the more affordable option of the two, while delivering similar results in terms of quality, safety, and efficacy.
While this form of treatment may be cheaper, it’s still not as widely accessible to those with psoriasis as one would hope.
Disputes over patents have restricted the availability for use of biosimilar drugs in certain countries - the US being one of them.
The good news? The option still exists. The bad news? Just in a limited capacity.
Is that it?
Well, yes, and no.
Biologics and biosimilars are the most recently approved FDA treatments for psoriasis.
But prior to these subcutaneous injections hitting the market, the FDA approved Otezla, a twice-a-day oral tablet back in 2014.
While these may be the most recent psoriatic breakthroughs in the eyes of science, the psoriasis community among various social media platforms, including Facebook groups and Reddit forums, seem to discuss other viable options.
Phytotherapy and UVB exposure are also popular contenders along with oral medications, topical treatments, and changes in diet, and lifestyle.
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With COVID-19 preventing so many of us from living our daily lives, it’s no wonder why more research on psoriasis and psoriasis treatments has not surfaced.
And though advancements may seem few and far between, rest assured knowing that options exist, and support is abundant.