Injections give new hope to psoriasis patients

Weekly injections of a treatment for psoriasis could help more people with this inflammatory skin condition, according to new research involving Salford Royal’s specialist dermatology centre.

People with severe psoriasis or those for whom creams and ointments haven’t worked can be prescribed what are known as systemic treatments or medicines. One of the most commonly used drugs is methotrexate, usually given as tablets or capsules.

But in the study, led from Salford Royal and The University of Manchester and taking place at 16 clinics throughout Europe, researchers trialled weekly injections of methotrexate for patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. Some injections were given in clinic but patients were mostly able to administer the injections themselves at home during the year-long study.

The researchers found that nearly half of those patients who had methotrexate injections for the full year saw a 75 per cent improvement in the condition of their skin, while nearly one in five had a 100 per cent improvement. A total of 120 people took part in the study.

The findings have now been published in The Lancet. Lead author Dr Richard Warren is an Honorary Consultant Dermatologist at Salford Royal and a Reader at The University of Manchester.

He said: “Psoriasis can be a very distressing condition where patients have painful, itchy, red or inflamed skin covered with silvery scales which are prone to cracking and bleeding. About 1.5 million people in the UK are affected.

“Methotrexate has been used to treat psoriasis for more than 50 years and is accessible worldwide. But high quality evidence for its use is sparse and limited to taking it as a tablet.

“Although our study was relatively small, it does show a more rapid and sustained response in the skin with injected methotrexate, as well as a generally acceptable safety profile when compared with the data available for people treated orally with methotrexate

“This could open up fresh treatment options for more people round the world. Methotrexate is also relatively inexpensive compared to our current biological treatments – about one 20th of the cost.”

You can read a summary of the article here.