New focus of treatment: biologics

The more researchers learn about the genetic nature of psoriasis, the more treatments can target the causes of the condition and provide better relief. As experts believe that more than one gene is involved in the development of psoriasis, the quest for a "cure" will not be simple as the process involves more than just the identification or isolation of a single gene. So for now, treatment (as opposed to a cure) provides the best hope for people affected by psoriasis.

Much treatment research focuses on a new class of medications called biologics. Biologics are medications derived from proteins from living cells. These proteins, given as an injection or infusion, work by interfering with the process in psoriasis where normal, healthy cells malfunction and become inflamed. Because biologics are designed to specifically target (block) only the malfunctioning cells, they offer benefits in that the whole body (e.g., healthy organs) is less likely to be affected by the treatment.

As well, because biologics interact with the actual cellular activity that triggers psoriasis, experts believe this type of treatment will offer longer-lasting relief than those treatments that target the symptoms of psoriasis, such as scaling on the skin. Treatments that focus on relieving the symptoms often are only effective for a short time after the person stops taking the medication, as the cellular process that causes psoriasis is unaffected. By using biologics designed to adjust the specific immune response, researchers believe that the treatment will offer healing benefits of a longer duration than current medications. This could mean remission periods, without treatments or symptoms, for many people.

A number of biologics have been shown to be safe and effective for moderate to severe psoriasis and have reached different stages of approval for use. Talk to your health care professional about the best treatments available to you at present and about what treatment changes you can expect in future.

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