Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine found that the drug anabasum was effective at treating a rare skin condition.
The drug reduced the severity of symptoms in patients with dermatomyositis, or DM, a rare and often incurable skin condition that causes symptoms ranging from a skin rash and muscle weakness to fevers, shortness of breath due to lung disease, weight loss and light sensitivity.
DM is considered rare with fewer than 100,000 cases in the United States overall.
"Not only are current treatments limited, but this disease itself is very understudied, so we've had to build our understanding of DM from the ground up just to be in a position to run a trial like this," Dr. Victoria P. Werth, a professor at Penn and chief of dermatology at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center in Philadelphia, said in a press release.
The study findings, which will be presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting next week, demonstrated symptom reduction in 11 patients who were given anabasum, with less severe skin disease and better quality of life being reported.
All 22 patients in the clinical trial had skin-predominant DM and did not respond to standard treatments, which include antimalarial and immunosuppressive drugs.
Researchers have recruited 20 of the 22 study participants for a one-year clinical trial of the long-term effects of the drug.