Arthritis drug beats untreatable eczema

New York, July 21 (IANS) Treatment with a drug approved for rheumatoid arthritis has led to dramatic improvement in six patients with moderate to severe eczema who had previously tried old therapies with no success, says a study.

The new study suggests that a change in the standard of care for eczema — a skin condition for which there is no targeted therapy — may be on the horizon, said the researchers.

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is a chronic condition that causes severe itching and leaves the skin red and thickened. It can adversely affect sleep and also the quality of life. Standard treatments, such as steroid creams and oral medicines, commonly fail to relieve symptoms in patients with moderate to severe eczema.

In the study, the researchers from Yale School of Medicine in the US hypothesized that the drug tofacitinib citrate, would interrupt the immune response that causes eczema.

During treatment all six patients reported significant reduction in itch as well as improved sleep. The redness and thickening of the skin also diminished, showed the findings reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

“These individuals were not only very happy with the results, they also expressed a tremendous sense of relief at being comfortable in their skin for the first time in many years,” said assistant professor of dermatology Brett King.

The researchers had previously shown that tofacitinib citrate regrows hair in patients with an autoimmune-related form of hair loss called as alopecia areata.

They also published findings reporting the successful treatment of a patient with vitiligo, which can leave widespread irregular white patches all over the body.

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