A skin disorder that causes patients to develop itchy allergic reactions in response to cold or friction can be treated with an asthma drug, a new study has found.
Researchers from Charite-Universitatsmedizin in Germany conducted two separate clinical studies.
They used the monoclonal antibody omalizumab to treat two different patient groups, about 61 patients with symptomatic dermographism and 31 patients with cold urticaria for a period of three months.
Cold urticaria and symptomatic dermographism are different forms of inducible urticaria, a skin disease characterized by itchy wheals, which develop in response to physical stimuli such as cold or friction, researchers said.
Patients with cold urticaria, for instance, cannot go swimming in the sea without risking an allergic reaction that may lead to shock; similarly, they cannot hold items colder than room temperature.
In patients with symptomatic dermographism, even gentle friction, such as that caused by clothing or physical contact, can result in severe itching.
People affected by the disorder often experience a reduced quality of life, and are forced to make adjustments to both their social and working lives, researchers said.
To test the efficacy of treatment, researchers used objective measurement techniques to determine provocation threshold values for all study participants.
Initial measurements were carried out prior to the first administration of the drug.
Once the second dose had been administered, measurements were repeated at four-weekly intervals, followed by a final measurement two weeks after the final dose.
Researchers found that treatment with omalizumab led to significant improvements in symptoms in both groups of patients, and prevented symptoms in nearly half of all patients with cold urticaria and symptomatic dermographism, even after exposure to the relevant stimuli.
“Our results show that patients with severe forms of physical urticaria can benefit from treatment with omalizumab,” said Martin Metz of Charite Universitatsmedizin.
Source: The Tribune