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Biologic drugs, or biologics, are among the most targeted therapies available today because they essentially use human DNA to treat certain diseases at the immune system level. Taken subcutaneously (through the skin) or intravenously (in the vein), biologics are genetically engineered medications that contain proteins derived from living tissues or cells cultured in a laboratory.
Here’s how many of them work.
The human body contains a certain type of protein called an interleukin, or IL, that helps our immune system fight off harmful viruses and bacteria. But for those of us with inflammatory diseases like atopic dermatitis, our immune systems tend to “overreact” or go haywire, triggering certain ILs to mistakenly attack the body instead of protecting it. This results in chronic inflammation that leads to those itchy, red patches on our skin.
Biologics block ILs from binding to their cell receptors, which stops the immune system from overreacting. A calmer immune system means lower or less severe inflammation and therefore fewer symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
What are the risks?
As you would with any medication, consult with your doctor to weigh the benefits vs. the risks to determine whether a biologic is the right treatment for you, especially if you are nursing, pregnant or trying to conceive.
Dupixent (dupilumab) is the first biologic medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for adults with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis for whom topical treatments have not worked or are not advised.
Dupixent (dupilumab) works on two interleukins believed to contribute to atopic diseases: IL-4 and IL-13. By blocking IL-4 and IL-13 from binding to their cell receptors, Dupixent limits the immune system from overreacting, lowering the severity of inflammation and decreasing the symptoms of atopic dermatitis.
In clinical trials, more than half of patients using Dupixent for 16 weeks reported their symptoms of atopic dermatitis were reduced by 75 percent. The most common side effects reported were conjunctivitis (pink eye), injection site reactions and cold sores on the mouth or lips.
Due to the chronic nature of atopic dermatitis, patients are encouraged to remain on Dupixent to continue experiencing the benefits of the drug.
Dupixent is taken by subcutaneous (under the skin) injection every other week after an initial loading dose and is available by prescription only. Talk to your doctor, visit www.dupixent.com and see our FAQ’s to learn more.