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Monthly jab could banish agonising eczema in four out of five patients—Study

Eczema sufferers could soon find relief from a monthly jab that banishes the uncomfortable symptoms. Studies show that four out of five people with the…

Eczema sufferers could soon find relief from a monthly jab that banishes the uncomfortable symptoms.

Studies show that four out of five people with the skin condition who take lebrikizumab will see their painful and itchy red rashes all-but disappear.

Lebrikizumab was approved by EU health regulators last month and experts say the drug will soon get the green light from the NHS.

Professor Anthony Bewley, consultant dermatologist at Barts Health NHS Trust in London, said: “The trial results have been very impressive and doctors are excited to use it. Eczema is a horrible condition, which we need more treatments to combat. This will hopefully become one of them.”

Eczema is a group of inflammatory skin conditions that cause itchiness, dry skin, rashes, scaly patches and infections that affect up to 25 per cent of the population.

The condition can intensify to such an extent it becomes debilitating, with inflamed skin all over the body. Sufferers may have to endure sensations of burning or have to wrap affected areas in bandages. It can also lead to stress and depression.

At least one in ten children will have eczema at some point but they will typically grow out of it as their immune system develops.

It is believed to occur in people with a common genetic mutation that leads to very dry skin. Flare-ups of symptoms can also be linked to allergies or triggered by certain soaps or foods.

Dermatologists will usually first prescribe creams and washes to deal with the dry skin, and steroid creams to reduce swelling and redness.

If these are ineffective then immunosuppressant drugs, such as cyclosporine or methotrexate, are given. These work by inhibiting certain parts of the immune system that drive inflammation, but can negatively affect immunity and the liver.

But trials of lebrikizumab show that the new treatment – given just once a month – triggers fewer side effects, including conjunctivitis.

The latest study of the drug, published by US pharmaceutical firm Lilly, shows that 80 per cent of participants with moderate to severe eczema who took lebrikizumab for two years maintained clear or almost clear skin. Significantly, experts say that the data suggests that many patients who come off the drug continue to live eczema free.

One patient hoping to benefit from lebrikizumab is Ellen Vincent, 44, from Cheltenham. She has lived with severe eczema her whole life.

“I spent my childhood smothered in creams,” she says. “People don’t realise how severe eczema can be. I was in pain all the time and bandaged up like a mummy.”

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