Rockefeller U team touts a potential psoriasis 'cure' from Boehringer

Psoriasis has attracted a big pack of rival drug giants anxious to be in the lead with a new wave of better, targeted therapies for legions of patients. But a team of investigators at Rockefeller University say they just scored early-stage data on a new drug from Boehringer Ingelheim that promises to offer a potential cure with a more durable therapy.

The drug is BI 655066, which inhibits IL-23--a popular target in the psoriasis field. The investigators say that in a study involving 31 psoriasis patients, the drug produced a "rapid, substantial, and durable clinical improvement in patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis. "Over the 6 weeks of the small study there was a greater than 80% improvement in the signs and symptoms of the disease. And if the small study holds up in larger studies, the team believes that it could offer a cure for many patients.

"The striking result we achieved using a human antibody that targets the signal interleukin-23 suggests we are on the threshold of doing something very different from our current model of treating psoriasis with immunosuppressive drugs throughout an adult lifetime," says study author James Krueger, director of the Milstein Medical Research Program, D. Martin Carter Professor in Clinical Investigation and head of the Laboratory of Investigative Dermatology. "It raises the possibility of working toward long-term remission--in other words, a cure." The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology published the results on Thursday, March 12.

Actually, the old treatment model is being quickly overtaken by a new generation of antibodies, led by Novartis' ($NVS) newly approved Cosentyx (secukinumab), which targets IL-17. And Eli Lilly (ixekizumab) along with a team from AstraZeneca/Amgen (brodalumab), Johnson & Johnson (guselkumab) and Merck (also focused on IL-23 with tildrakizumab) are hot on Novartis' heels with new therapies that look like they'll be very competitive with high response rates. To be competitive with that group another therapy would have to prove much more durable with better cure rates, which is what Rockefeller seems intent on.

According to ClinicalTrials.gov, BI 655066 is currently in a 48-week Phase II study that is slated to be fully wrapped by August.

- here's the release

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