MANCHESTER, England, June 10 (UPI) -- Psoriasis patients in a clinical trial led by the University of Manchester saw significant improvement in their symptoms after 12 weeks taking the drug ixekizumab, with 40 percent of participants showing a complete clearance of psoriatic plaques on the skin and 90 percent showing some kind of improvement.
The drug neutralizes an inflammatory protein in the skin recognized as one of the major causes of the red, scaly plaques of psoriasis.
"The visible effects of psoriasis can have a major and life-ruining impact on people's confidence and self-esteem," Chris Griffiths, Foundation Professor of Dermatology in the university's Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, said in a press release.
"What we saw in this trial was not just the physical aspects of the disease clearing up, but people on the new drug also reporting a marked improvement in their quality of life as they felt more confident and suffered less from itching -- far more than in the other two groups."
Every two to four weeks, 1,250 participants in the study were given a dose of ixekizumab, while the remaining 1,250 participants received either a placebo or the drug etanercept, which is widely used for psoriasis.
The participants who received ixekizumab showed a faster and more extensive improvement than those who received etanercept or a placebo, with 71 percent showing a "high level of improvement" during the study according to the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index, a method of measuring the condition in patients.
The results of the trial are published in The Lancet.