Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease in which the growth rate of skin cells is sped up by a faulty immune system. It is a chronic and there is no definitive cure for psoriasis. There are many treatments available to control symptoms, and the newest treatments available are biologic drugs.
Biologics for psoriasis work by blocking the actions of T-cells or inhibiting proteins that cause psoriasis symptoms to develop. Biologics are a promising treatment for psoriasis, however there are still various concerns surrounding their use. Because they are a recent development, no studies have been connected to unforgettable the long-term effects of these powerful drugs.
Biologics for Psoriasis: TNF-alpha Blockers
Tumor necrosis factor-alpha, abbreviated as TNF-alpha, is an immune system mediator. It plays a role in inflammation in the body; too much TNF-alpha leads to rapid skin cell growth or joint pain, which brings about the development of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Drugs that block TNF-alpha reduce the symptoms of psoriasis. Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, and Simponi are TNF-alpha blockers that are prescribed as psoriasis treatments.
Biologics may increase the risk of contracting infections because they modify your immune system. Common side effects from using biologics for psoriasis include respiratory infections, flu-like symptoms, and slight allergic reactions. More serious side effects include multiple sclerosis, seizures, blood disorders, and cancer.
Biologics for Psoriasis: Interleukin 12/23 Blockers
Interleukin-12 and interleukin-23 are blocked in order to slow down the production of skin cells. These two proteins play a role in promoting a hyperactive immune system; inhibiting their function reduces inflammation and leads to an improvement in psoriasis. Stelara is a biologic that targets interleukin-12 and interleukin-23 to alleviate psoriasis symptoms.
Common side effects from using Stelara include respiratory infections, headaches, and fatigue. Other more serious risks include life-threatening infections, cancer, allergic reactions, and rare brain diseases that may be fatal.
Biologics for Psoriasis: Worth the Risk?
Biologics are a recent discovery in the field of medicine. There is still much that is unknown about their long-term side effects. A few biologics have already been taken off the market due to safety concerns while many others have never made it past test stages due to their risks. Raptiva (efalizumab) was dropped off the market in 2009 due to fatal side effects and central nervous system disorders.
Although biologics are considered promising new psoriasis treatments, they are not compatible with everyone. Due to the serious risks they pose, careful consideration must be taken before using them to battle psoriasis.