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New Psoriasis Pill Appears Effective
Date:4/18/2008

Whether the drug is safe for long-term use hasn't been proved, one expert says

FRIDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- A new drug for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis appears to be safe and effective, a Canadian trial shows.

The results indicate higher doses of ISA247, which is a calcineurin inhibitor, significantly improve symptoms of psoriasis. Calcineurin is a protein that helps regulate inflammation.

"This is the first oral medication in 20 years to show promise for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis," said lead researcher Dr. Kim Papp, from Probity Medical Research in Waterloo, Ontario.

The new drug is safer and easier to use than current treatments for psoriasis, the researchers said.

Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disease. The most common form, plaque psoriasis, appears as raised, red patches or lesions covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells. As many as 7.5 million Americans have psoriasis, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Currently, one of the most effective treatments for psoriasis is the calcineurin inhibitor drug ciclosporin. However, the drug's toxic effects on the kidneys prevent it from being used for long-term treatment, which is often needed because psoriasis tends to reappear once treatment is stopped.

Other drugs such as infliximab (Remicade) are safe and effective but are expensive and inconvenient to use. In addition, the long-term safety of the drug isn't known.

The report is published in the April 19 issue of The Lancet.

In the study, Papp's team randomly selected 451 patients with plaque psoriasis that affected at least 10 percent of the body, to receive the new drug or placebo. There were three groups of patients who received ISA247, but at different doses.

The researchers looked for a 75 percent reduction in what is called the psoriasis area and severity index s
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