HONOLULU – During office visits with Andrew Blauvelt, MD, MBA, many patients well controlled on biologic therapy for their moderate to severe psoriasis often ask him when their scheduled injections can stop.
Dr. Andrew Blauvelt
The most common question he hears is, “ ‘Why do I have to keep doing this? I’ve been clear for 2 or 3 years,’ ” Dr. Blauvelt, president of Oregon Medical Research Center, Portland, said at the Hawaii Dermatology Seminar provided by MedscapeLIVE! “We have terrific drugs for psoriasis, but how can we do better?”
According to Dr. Blauvelt, there are at least six future strategies to treat psoriasis, induce remission, and/or cure the disease:
Development of oral biologics. At least two companies are developing a peptide-type small molecule that blocks interleukin (IL)-17 or IL-23 signaling, but would be given as a pill, he said. Another concept in the works is a robotic pill for drug delivery. The pill, which is being developed by Rani Therapeutics, protects the biotherapeutic drug payload from digestion in the GI tract and auto-injects it into the wall of the small intestine, according to a report of two studies that demonstrated the safety and tolerability of the robotic pill in healthy humans.
In an animal study, the same researchers showed that delivering monoclonal antibodies with the robotic pill achieved bioavailability on par with that obtained by standard subcutaneous injections.
Identifying “super responders” who require less frequent dosing of medication. “There’s data to suggest that we can kind of back off treatment in these patients,” Dr. Blauvelt said.
Hitting treatment hard and early. “There’s a concept in medicine of hitting disease hard and hitting it early, before the disease can establish itself and cause damage,” he said.
Targeting tissue resident memory T cells. In psoriasis, the idea is that if you treat earlier, when patients are just diagnosed, “perhaps you might be able to decrease resident memory T cells that set up shop in the skin and are responsible for disease recurrences,” Dr. Blauvelt said. “Research has shown that IL-23 blockers decrease tissue resident memory T cells, and IL-17 blockers don’t. This could explain why we see long remissions in this class of drug because we’re getting at these resident memory T cells and knocking them down,” he explained. “Our hypothesis is that hitting hard and early in the treatment course with high-dose IL-23 blockade may be an effective strategy to induce long-term remissions and possible cure, what we call ‘knock-out therapy.”
In a pilot study of 20 patients, Dr. Blauvelt and colleagues are evaluating whether higher initial doses of the IL-23 antagonist risankizumab (300 mg and 600 mg, 2 times and 4 times the standard initial doses for plaque psoriasis) can more effectively target resident memory T cells. “This involves dosing at weeks 0, 4, and 16, then stopping and measuring resident T cells in the tissue to see how long we can induce psoriasis remissions,” Dr. Blauvelt said.
“I have no data to share, but I think we have the potential for unprecedented PASI-100 numbers with no added safety concerns, and the potential to break away from established regular dosing patterns,” such as the possibility of yearly dosing, the possibility of long-term remissions, and the possibility of cure in some patients, he noted.
Inducing tolerance. This refers to efforts aimed at increasing regulatory T cells, which are natural T cells that calm inflammation. He described it as “revving up our natural anti-inflammatory T cells to help balance the immune system.”
Gene editing. This involves using CRISPR gene editing technology to cut genes as a way to cure disease. “What if we cut the IL-23 receptor?” Dr. Blauvelt asked. “You would get rid of that whole signaling pathway. Would the patient be fine?”
In an interview at the meeting, Linda Stein Gold, MD, director of clinical research and division head of dermatology at the Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, said that Dr. Blauvelt “has a very exciting view” of the future of psoriasis treatments. “I think that some of it will come true; we’ll have to see which,” Dr. Stein Gold said. “The idea that we might be able to change the trajectory of disease by being aggressive upfront, and possibly modify the course, is exciting. That would be a wonderful new treatment approach.”
Dr. Blauvelt disclosed ties with AbbVie, Abcentra, Affibody, Aligos, Almirall, Alumis, Amgen, AnaptysBio, Arcutis, Arena, ASLAN Pharma, Athenex, Bluefin, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Cara, Dermavant, EcoR1, Escient, Evelo, Evommune, Forte, Galderma, Highlightll, Incyte, Innovent Bio, Janssen, Landos, Leo, Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Rapt, Regeneron, Sanofi-Genzyme, Spherix, Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries, TLL Pharmaceutical, TrialSpark, UCB Pharma, Vibliome, and Xencor.
Dr. Stein Gold disclosed ties with Almirall, Cutera, Dermata, Galderma, Novartis, Ortho Dermatologics, and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd.
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This story originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.
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