Hope for psoriasis sufferers

A dramatic advance in the treatment of psoriasis, the debilitating skin condition which affects more than one million people in the UK, was announced by scientists yesterday.

Two trials of a new biological agent, ustekinumab, in almost 2,000 patients with moderate to severe forms of the disease have shown it was highly effective in controlling the painful condition, had few side-effects and was more convenient to take than existing therapies.

More than two-thirds of those treated with the drug, given in two injections a month apart and then at three-month intervals, had better than 75 per cent improvement in the state of their skin. Treatment continued, and the improvement was maintained, for up to 18 months. The results of the trials are published in The Lancet.

One lead investigator, Craig Leonardi, who is associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of St Louis, Missouri, said: "These were highly significant impressive clinical results and some of the happiest patients I have had the pleasure of treating."