The immune system is made up of a network of tissues, cells, and chemical mediators that work together to protect the body.  Interleukins (ILs) are a group of chemical mediators important to stimulating the body’s immune responses, including inflammation.  When the immune system goes haywire, it can trigger certain ILs to mistakenly attack our own body, resulting in chronic inflammation such as atopic dermatitis or asthma.

In the past decade, breakthroughs in genetic engineering and a better understanding of chemical mediators in the inflammation of atopic dermatitis have led to the discovery that IL-4 and IL-23 are key chemical mediators which initiate, maintain, and perpetuate skin inflammation.  If the action of these chemical mediators can be blocked, skin inflammation can be obstructed and even prevented.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Dupixent (dupilumab), the first biologic medication for adults with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis (AD) for whom other treatments have not worked or are not advised.  Different from topical or oral medications, biologic drugs are made from proteins typically derived from human DNA and “grown” through a sophisticated manufacturing process.

Dupixent, a monoclonal antibody, works by blocking proteins called interleukin-4 and IL-13 from attaching to cell receptors.  By blocking IL-4 and IL-13 from binding to its receptors, Dupixent curbs the immune system over-reaction that results in atopic dermatitis and leads to fewer and/or less severe symptoms.  Although the quality of life can be seriously impacted by severe AD, the new drugs give good reason to be optimistic.

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