The drug infliximab, normally prescribed for arthritis, seems also to work against the chronic skin disease psoriasis. The benefits were akin to those induced by cyclosporin, a potent immune suppressant routinely prescribed for psoriasis.
Scientists gave 33 psoriasis patients three intravenous infusions over 6 weeks. A third of the participants received a low dose of infliximab, a third got a high dose, and the rest received a placebo. Four weeks after the last treatment, 19 of the 22 patients getting infliximab had far fewer skin lesions than at the start of the experiment, whereas only 2 of 11 in the placebo group had improved, the researchers report in the June 9 Lancet. Patients' responses to the low and high drug doses were approximately the same.
The skin lesions "cleared quickly, in 6 to 8 weeks" after the start of treatment in most patients receiving infliximab, says study coauthor Alice B. Gottlieb, an immunologist at the University of Medicine and Den