BIOLOGICS: CURRENT BREAKTHROUGHS AND FUTURE PROSPECTS
Biologics are a relatively new class of drugs used for the treatment of different disease conditions.1 Unlike conventional therapy, biologics for atopic dermatitis specifically target the underlying immune mechanisms of the disease,1,2 making them potentially useful for patients whose condition is difficult to control with current drugs.1
Biologics, the new frontier in atopic dermatitis treatment
Biologics use cutting edge techniques.1,3
Unlike other medications, biologics or biological therapies are made from proteins, usually modeled from human DNA.3 They are created using a sophisticated process that involves living cells, hence the name derived from “biology”, a word that means “the science of life” or “the processes characteristic of living things”.3-4
Biologics are also called “Immunotherapy”, because they can be used to target the immune system.1,5 In many diseases like atopic dermatitis, there is a problem with your body’s immune system.1,2,4,5 It may be overactive or overproduce certain substances or chemical signals.1,2,4,5 Biologics are used to restore the immune system so that it can fight infections and disease more effectively.5
Biologics helps restore immune response to a more normal level.1-3,6
Atopic dermatitis is, in part, due to an overactive immune system.1 Instead of a normal reaction, the immune system goes haywire, sending too many chemical signals and activating many immune cells.1,3 This results in ongoing inflammation and periodic flare-ups, including the symptoms of itchiness, redness and rashes.1,3 Biologics can be used to block some of those signals, in order to reduce the response to a more normal level.1-3,6
Which atopic dermatitis patients need biologics?
Biologics may be used in moderate to severe disease.1-3,6
The foundation of atopic dermatitis treatment is appropriate skin care and frequent moisturization.6 However, up to 1 out of every 5 patients with atopic dermatitis fail to improve on conventional therapy.1 New research into the disease gives us a better understanding of the disease and the immunologic reasons why symptoms and flare-ups happen.6 As biologics are targeted at the immune mechanisms of atopic dermatitis, they may be able to help some patients for whom conventional therapy has failed.1,2,6
Studies show that biologics are generally safe and effective for patients who are having trouble controlling their flare-ups with other types of treatment,6 but it’s important to understand that biologics will not work for everyone. You need to discuss the pros and cons of different treatment options with your doctor in order to arrive at a treatment plan that is best suited for you.
The Future of Biologics
Patients can look forward to more options and better results.1,2,6
Atopic dermatitis is a complex disease. The immune mechanisms that underlie the disease involve many different cells and different chemical signals.1,2,6 As a particular biologic drug targets only one or two of these chemical signals, biologics that work for some patients may not work for others.1,2,6
However, scientists are working really hard to learn more about atopic dermatitis and many more types of biologic drugs are being developed.1,6 They are not just looking at biologics that target different chemical signals, researchers are also looking at drugs that target specific allergens, and drugs that can change the activity of certain immune cells.1,6
This is great news because in the future, it may be possible for doctors to prescribe the exact drugs that an individual patient will need to get the best control over their disease.2
- Deleanu, D. & Nedelea, I. (2019). Biological therapies for atopic dermatitis, an update. Exp Ther Med, 17(2), 1061-1067. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6327672/
- Wu, J. & Guttman-Yassky E. (2020). Efficacy of biologics in atopic dermatitis. Expert Opin Biol Ther, 20(5), 525-538. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14712598.2020.1722998
- National Eczema Association. (2017). “First biologic approved for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis”, https://nationaleczema.org/dupixent-approval/ (Accessed October 28, 2020).
- Burke, E. (2020). “Biomanufacturing: How biologics are made”, in Van Tiem, S. (editor). Biotech Primer, https://weekly.biotechprimer.com/biomanufacturing-how-biologics-are-made/ (Accessed October 28, 2020).
- Stöppler, M.C. “Biological Therapy”, Balentine, J.R. (editor). MedicineNet, https://www.medicinenet.com/biological_therapy/article.htm#what_is_biological_therapy (Accessed October 28, 2020).
- Johnson, B.B., Franco, A.I., Beck, L.A. & Prezzano, J.C. (2019). Treatment resistant atopic dermatitis: challenges and solutions. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol, 12, 181-192. https://www.dovepress.com/treatment-resistant-atopic-dermatitis-challenges-and-solutions-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-CCID
Health information contained herein is provided for general educational purposes only. Your healthcare professional is the single best source of information regarding your health. Please consult your healthcare professional if you have any questions about your health or treatment.