Infants, young children finally get relief from eczemas terrible itch: Biologic drug is highly effective in reducing symptoms, study finds

The first study to treat moderate-to-severe eczema in infants and children 6 months to 5 years old with a biologic drug (monoclonal antibody) rather than immune-suppressing medications shows the drug was highly effective in reducing the signs and symptoms of moderate-to-severe eczema, report researchers involved in a new multi-site international phase III study led by Northwestern Medicine.

A 16-week course of dupilumab, a medication that targets a key immune pathway in allergies, resulted in more than half the children having at least a 75% reduction in signs of eczema and highly significant reductions in itch with improved sleep.

This is the first large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of a monoclonal antibody in any skin disease, including eczema, in children as young as 6 months. The study, which included 31 sites in Europe and North America, will be published Sept. 15 in The Lancet.

“Preschoolers who are constantly scratching, awake multiple times a night with their parents, irritable and markedly curtailed in their ability to do what other children their ages can do improved to the extent that they sleep through the night, change their personalities and have a normal life — as babies and children should,” said lead study author Dr. Amy Paller, chair of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and an attending physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder characterized by red, dry, often oozing skin and itch that can profoundly affect the lives of affected patients and their families.

An estimated 19% or more of all children under 6 years of age have eczema and 85 to 90% of individuals affected overall with eczema have the onset of disease during the first five years of life.

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