Psoriasis Biologic Therapies
Unlike most other medications which are made by combining chemicals, biologics are made from human or animal proteins.
Also, unlike traditional systemic drugs for psoriasis which impact the entire immune system, biologics target specific cells of the immune system.iii
Biologic drugs have been available for some time – vaccines and insulin are well known examples of biologic medicines. However the use of biologics for the treatment of psoriasis is relatively new.
In the treatment of psoriasis, biologics modify the body’s immune responses. These drugs are given as injections or intravenous (IV) infusions to patients. Dosing intervals can range from once or twice weekly to once every 12 weeks. Biologics are prescribed for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis who have not responded to other available treatments or cannot continue taking them due to unacceptable side effects.ii
Immunomodulating agents like ustekinumab blocks the action of 2 proteins that may be responsible for causing the immune system to attack parts of the patient’s body like the skin and nails. TNF α blockers like Adalimumab, Etanercept or Infliximab block tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα). TNF-α is made by the body’s immune system and interferes with the body’s inflammatory response.”
The use of biologics also comes with associated risks and benefits. Common side effects include respiratory infections, flu-like symptoms and injection site reactions.
If your doctor feels you may benefit from taking one of these treatments, they will discuss the pros and cons with you before going ahead, and explain which tests you will need before starting and during treatment.