BACKGROUND: Dupilumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody that blocks interleukin-4 and interleukin-13, has shown efficacy in patients with asthma and elevated eosinophil levels. The blockade by dupilumab of these key drivers of type 2 helper T-cell (Th2)-mediated inflammation could help in the treatment of related diseases, including atopic dermatitis. METHODS: We performed randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials involving adults who had moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis despite treatment with topical glucocorticoids and calcineurin inhibitors. Dupilumab was evaluated as monotherapy in two 4-week trials and in one 12-week trial and in combination with topical glucocorticoids in another 4-week study. End points included the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) score, the investigator's global assessment score, pruritus, safety assessments, serum biomarker levels, and disease transcriptome. RESULTS: In the 4-week monotherapy studies, dupilumab resulted in rapid and dose-dependent improvements in clinical indexes, biomarker levels, and the transcriptome. The results of the 12-week study of dupilumab monotherapy reproduced and extended the 4-week findings: 85% of patients in the dupilumab group, as compared with 35% of those in the placebo group, had a 50% reduction in the EASI score (EASI-50, with higher scores in the EASI indicating greater severity of eczema) (P<0.001); 40% of patients in the dupilumab group, as compared with 7% in the placebo group, had a score of 0 to 1 (indicating clearing or near-clearing of skin lesions) on the investigator's global assessment (P<0.001); and pruritus scores decreased (indicating a reduction in itch) by 55.7% in the dupilumab group versus 15.1% in the placebo group (P<0.001). In the combination study, 100% of the patients in the dupilumab group, as compared with 50% of those who received topical glucocorticoids with placebo injection, met the criterion for EASI-50 (P=0.002), despite the fact that patients who received dupilumab plus glucocorticoids used less than half the amount of topical glucocorticoids used by those who received placebo plus the topical medication (P=0.16). Adverse events, such as skin infection, occurred more frequently with placebo; nasopharyngitis and headache were the most frequent adverse events with dupilumab. CONCLUSIONS: Patients treated with dupilumab had marked and rapid improvement in all the evaluated measures of atopic dermatitis disease activity. Side-effect profiles were not dose-limiting.
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