Biologics - the newest class of psoriasis medications. Biologics are large molecules typically derived from living cells; they include, among others, therapeutic proteins and molecules targeting the overactive immune system. There is no cure for psoriasis, but biologics have recently been introduced, and ongoing research looks promising for this new treatment option.
Biologic drugs target specific parts of the immune system involved in psoriasis. Biologics work by inhibiting the immune system (termed ‘immunosuppressive drugs’). Unlike standard immunosuppressive drugs that affects the entire immune system, biologics can fight more selectively and target only those immune chemicals involved in psoriasis.
Side effects include skin rashes, infections, nausea and increased risk of different types of cancer. It might be scary to think of, but biologics are usually better tolerated, and have fewer side-effects than older psoriasis medications affecting the entire immune system.
- Biologic drugs are approved for moderate to severe psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis (involvement of the joints) or both. Because of their high cost, biologics are mainly reserved for patients with severe disease and for those who have not responded to or have experienced harmful side effects from other treatments.
Some of the available biologics to treat psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis are: Adalimumab (Humira), Etanercept (Enbrel), Ustekinumab (Stelara), Secukinumab (Cosentyx), Brodalumab (Kyntheum), and Ixekizumab (Taltz).