Biologic therapy is a revolutionary treatment that uses the body’s own immune system to fight diseases. Recently, experts have discovered that for psoriasis patients, undergoing regular sessions of this therapy can produce some life-changing results.
Dr Ariel Haus, one of our top dermatologists and medical director of Dr Haus Dermatology in London, explains what biologic therapy is and how this innovative therapy has the potential to help many people with this inflammatory skin condition.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition that causes red, flaky patches of skin. These patches typically appear on your elbows, knees, lower back and scalp and even sometimes affect the joints.
If you have psoriasis, your skin replacement process is much faster than usual, taking just a few hours to replace skin cells that would normally take around 21-28 days. When all these skin cells accumulate, they form raised ‘plaques’ on the skin. In Caucasian skin, these are typically red, itchy and flakey, whilst in darker skin tones, the patches can appear darker.
What causes psoriasis?
Some people have a family history of the condition, but others don’t. Flare-ups can be triggered by a range of factors such as stress or anxiety, skin injuries, hormonal changes or certain types of infections or medications.
What is biologic therapy and how can it treat psoriasis?
While most drugs are made from plants or chemicals, biologic therapy is made from proteins and is designed to stimulate or restore the ability of the body’s immune system to fight infection and disease. In psoriasis, the therapy can mimic normal human molecules and block the activity of cytokines which regulate the response of the immune system. Cytokines are contained in psoriatic plaques which lead to the redness, thickening and inflammation of the skin, so the therapy can, therefore, target this area to prevent the rapid skin cell growth seen in psoriasis.
An example of a biologic drug used in dermatology is secukinumab. It's usually used for the treatment of chronic psoriasis, particularly when conventional treatment options haven’t worked. Secukinumab is injected under the skin of the stomach, thighs or upper outer arms.
How well does biologic therapy work?
Although biologic therapy has existed for many years, we are still in the early stages of developing and applying it to clinical practice. At Dr Haus Dermatology, we are currently using the most up-to-date products and are seeing some incredible results with patients.
Apart from psoriasis, what other conditions can biologic therapies treat?
Biologic therapies involve the use of substances called biological response modifiers. Our bodies produce these, but usually in very small amounts. With the help of technology though, they can be administered in larger amounts to treat conditions such as cancer, Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Are there any risks involved with this treatment?
As with any treatment, there are downsides. Biologic therapy affects the immune system, so while you are on the treatment, it could make your immune system weaker at fighting infections and diseases. This would, of course, be closely monitored by the overseeing doctor.
What does the therapy consist of and is it invasive?
This is an innovative treatment for patients enduring chronic diseases such as psoriasis and arthritis. The treatment itself is minimally invasive and is administered through injection without the need for surgery.
The dosage and frequency vary depending on the patient and their condition. Doctors may suggest one dose per week as an initial treatment for the first five weeks and then it can usually be reduced to once a month afterwards. Again, this depends on each case and some patients may only require one treatment per month.
If you think this treatment might be right for you, talk to Dr Haus or one of the other expert dermatologists at Dr Haus Dermatology by going to his Top Doctors profile and booking an appointment.