Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine have successfully demonstrated how a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis can also treat the chronic skin condition eczema. The findings have been published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
For the study, six eczema patients—all of whom had no success with conventional eczema treatments—tried the drug tofacitinib citrate, which has been approved for treating rheumatoid arthritis. All six of the participants reported an improvement in their symptoms, including reduced itching, redness, and skin thickening, along with improved sleep.
Research in recent years has shown that eczema may be caused by an autoimmune disorder, which would explain why the rheumatoid arthritis drug works to treat it. (Rheumatoid arthritis is also an autoimmune disease.)
The drug tofacitinib citrate treats arthritic symptoms by blocking the Janus kinases (JAKs) enzymes that lead to inflammation in the joints and tissues. Study researchers believe that the drug has a similar effect on the inflammation associated with eczema—tofacitinib citrate interferes with the immune response that triggers the skin condition.
Although more research is needed to determine the safety and long-term efficacy of the treatment, researchers are hopeful that it will open the door to new treatment options for patients who haven’t been able to find relief with traditional eczema treatments.
Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, affects more than 30 million Americans, with more than half of these cases being moderate or severe eczema. The uncomfortable skin condition is characterized by severe itching with thick, red patches on the skin’s surface. Standard treatments for eczema currently include topical steroid creams and oral medications; however, these often don’t work for severe and sometimes even moderate eczema cases—this is why new treatment options are in such high demand.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Paddock, C., “Eczema successfully treated with arthritis drug,” Medical News Today web site, July 21, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/297024.php.
Hanifin, J.M., et al., “A Population-Based Survey of Eczema Prevalence in the United States,” Dermatitis 2007; 18(2): 82–91.