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Anna López-Ferrer, MD, PhD, and Volker Koscielny, MD, MBA, Share Highlights From Almirall’s 15th Skin Academy


López-Ferrer discussed how to achieve well-being for patients with psoriasis and Koscielny discussed the unique topics of the Skin Academy.

Almirall programme logo

Credit: Almirall

Earlier this month, Almirall hosted its 15th annual Skin Academy meeting in Barcelona, Spain. The 2-day conference brought together dermatologists from across Europe and other regions to discuss inflammatory skin diseases, updates on available and upcoming therapeutics, patient well-being, and more.

At this year’s meeting, Anna López-Ferrer, MD, PhD, a dermatologist in the department of dermatology and the psoriasis unit at the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in Barcelona, presented her session, "Can We Achieve Long-Lasting Wellbeing” to attendees. López-Ferrer is passionate about both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, and she set up a joint clinic with the rheumatology department at the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau to study and treat patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Dermatology Times spoke to López-Ferrer about the key highlights from her session, takeaway points for dermatologists, her work with the International Psoriasis Council, and more. Volker Koscielny, MD, MBA, the chief medical officer of Almirall, also met with Dermatology Times to discuss the goal of the annual Skin Academy meeting and this year’s overarching themes.

Q&A With Anna López-Ferrer, MD, PhD

Anna López-Ferrer, MD, PhD

Credit: Almirall

Anna López-Ferrer, MD, PhD

Credit: Almirall

Dermatology Times: Can you please provide 3-4 key takeaways from “Can we achieve long-lasting well-being” that you shared with attendees?

López-Ferrer: The first message is that dermatologists now have an armamentarium or arsenal to treat patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. We are able to provide them an opportunity to reach complete clearance in a high percentage of patients, but it does not necessarily mean that we will achieve therapeutic success. The second message is that we need to assess the patient as a whole. We need to include social, emotional, occupational, and physical aspects and that means in the end, the patient's well-being.

In the positive phase 2 study that I showed, it was designed to assess the well-being in patients with psoriasis who were treated with tildrakizumab. This study demonstrates that when the treatment is efficacious in clinical practice, what we are doing confirms that the outcome is get the well-being of the patient. Nowadays, the current approach in the case of psoriasis isn’t a holistic approach or holistic management that needs to include the patient as a whole to include the full impact of the disease and not only skin clearance. We need to look farther and go beyond the skin.

Dermatology Times: What other sessions from the Skin Academy, psoriasis related or other, did you find interesting?

López-Ferrer: This year, what I have found really interesting about the Skin Academy is that it includes sessions in different fields of dermatology. I think this is one of the reasons why there were so many attendees in that meeting around different countries of Europe who have their information about different inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, but even other inflammatory diseases. For the ones we still do not have available treatments, for example, lupus or bullosa diseases, or even HS now has a lot of clinical trials in this field. The second field of dermatology that was included in the Skin Academy was also related to skin cancer and actinic keratosis. I think that both of these areas and also the inflammatory diseases are covering two different aspects. One is all related to the therapeutic areas, the guidelines, and what we have to do in different stages of the disease, and which options do we have for every patient.

The second is the evaluation of the patient as a whole, which is the impact of the disease, in every disease and the different diseases that have been treated in Skin Academy, and, and how to manage this impact of the disease in our patients. Even in patients with actinic keratosis, we have found a burden of the disease. I think that it was impactful for me, it's new. We are very aware of the impact of inflammatory disease, but not for example, actinic keratosis, and I found it really interesting. Also, the sessions about dermoscopy and clinical cases, I found them really interesting when treating those fields that I'm not so used to working with, for example, I'm not an expert in atopic dermatitis. I think it was really helpful for me to see the different guidelines and different approaches in the sense that the different clinical cases that I can see from our clinical colleagues and from colleagues who are experts in this field.

Dermatology Times: How are you involved with the International Psoriasis Council (IPC)?

López-Ferrer: I joined the IPC a couple of years ago. It is a community that includes physicians who are experts in psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, and who are doing research in this field that is actively involved in psoriasis. The IPC focuses on the education of health care professionals in dermatology around the world. I’ve mainly been involved in educational programs around the world, such as doing masterclasses in Asia, Africa, or even for colleagues in Europe, as well as educational programs for young dermatologists that want to research in the field of psoriasis.

Dermatology Times: In your opinion, what are still some of the challenges clinicians face when treating psoriasis?

López-Ferrer: I think that we still have many unmet needs in the management of psoriasis. One is all that is related to the well-being of the patient and what I talked about in my session because we didn’t know exactly what the burden of the disease is related to the quality of life of the patients in the long term. So, we need ways to quantify that, and only when we are able to quantify that we will need to call to have a solution for that.

Dermatology Times: What have been recent advancements in research or therapeutics in psoriasis that you are excited about?

López-Ferrer: Part of my motivation is that I work with patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, as well as closely with rheumatology. One of the most important and relevant areas to that point is one of the hot topics in connection between dermatologists and rheumatologists of arthritis prevention. I think we also need investigation results to detect which patients are the ones who are more prone to develop psoriatic arthritis. We know that our patients with risk factors have more probability to develop psoriatic arthritis, but we still do not know who the ones are who will develop these main comorbidities that are providing disabilities and severe problems to our patients. I think it's one of the reasons why many of the dermatologists are aware of that at that moment.

Dr Anna López-Ferrer is a dermatology specialist at the dermatology department of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in Barcelona and holds a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Barcelona. Dr López-Ferrer is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, associate professor at the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, and is the coordinator of the Psoriasis Group of the AEDV (Spanish Academy of Dermatology). Dr López-Ferrer works in the psoriasis unit of the department of dermatology and since June 2012, together with the department of rheumatology, has created a joint clinic to work with patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Dr López-Ferrer is a member of the Spanish Society of Dermatology (AEDV), the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV), the Group for Research of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis (GRAPPA) and is a Councillor of the International Psoriasis Council (IPC). She has authored or co-authored multiple scientific articles and has participated in multiple national and international clinical trials on psoriasis.

Q&A With Volker Koscielny, MD, MBA

Volker Koscielny, MD, MBA

Credit: Almirall

Volker Koscielny, MD, MBA

Credit: Almirall

Dermatology Times: How did you contribute to organizing the Skin Academy and its scientific content?

Koscielny: This was the 15th edition of the Skin Academy. Normally, these kinds of events come and go, but the long history of the Skin Academy tells you something about the perception of value within the dermatology community. The key here is that we try to bring content that is fresh, that is meaningful, that is reflecting state-of-the-art knowledge delivered by experts, like Dr. López-Ferrer, in a very light and accessible way, but also combined with tips and tricks for clinical practice. So, you have 2 days where you get an intensive update in relevant topics and state-of-the-art knowledge, but with a view of, ‘What can I translate into my daily, busy clinical practice?” I think that’s the ingredient for success for the long history of the Skin Academy. We tried to do this this year; we focused on inflammatory diseases, but also some less common diseases, yet diseases that doctors still encounter in clinical practice.

Dermatology Times: Overall, what is the goal of the Skin Academy and how did it achieve its goal? 

Koscielny: I think the key to success is relevant topics and engaging speakers who really can connect with the audience and who do it in a playful or dialogue way where we bring the audience in. We package it in a digestible way, with a lightness giving space for interaction where people from across Europe, or even across the world, can come together, share clinical practice data, discuss clinical practice, and draw insights from best practices. These are the ingredients that make the Skin Academy a success.

Dermatology Times: In your opinion, what were some of the important highlights or updates on research shared at the meeting? 

Koscielny: When compared to other areas of medicine that are perceived as more serious or where you have higher rates of mortality where people die, that’s not necessarily the case in many dermatologic diseases. Yet, the impact of these diseases on patients and their families is devastating. These patients are far from the good, fulfilled lives they should be living. That’s what drives me. What we try to reflect in the Skin Academy is really a message that science has advanced. One of the speakers called it out: dermatology today, when you look at immunology, cutting-edge science is very much at the forefront of science with biological therapies, moving potentially into a field of CAR T-cell therapies. We are very much at the forefront of science here.

But what interests me is how this translates into optimized outcomes for patients across indications in dermatology, and Dr. López-Ferrer mentioned it. Today we talk about well-being not just about an improvement on quality of life; well-being is a much more radical concept, a fundamental concept. We're asking radical, fundamental questions. Can we give these patients their lives back? Can we influence their biography and make sure that they have as fulfilled lives as they deserve and can possibly have? The message to the audience is don't accept compromise, there is no need to accept compromise. You have all the tools, and all the medicines in your armamentarium.

Dermatology Times: What key themes did you notice as a result of the content shared at the Skin Academy meeting?

Koscielny: I think a key theme was there's a luxury in choice in having many medicines available. Atopic dermatitis, for instance, was for many years an underserved area. Now we have the emergence of more biologics and JAK inhibitors. So, that's a choice for doctors. I think the educational session, particularly on atopic dermatitis, was wonderful because as I mentioned before, there were a lot of practical tips given there. You looked into the audience and you saw doctors taking notes. And I can tell you, at clinical practice on Monday when they are back, their clinical practice for many of the attendees will have changed in the interest of the patient at the end of the day.

On the second day, we had a really intensive update on some of the smaller potentially rare disease indications, but still indications that many doctors will encounter. If you are not working with an indication on a day-to-day basis, you may not feel as secure. I think the state-of-the-art update was very much a reminder for what to look out for with treatment options.

Dermatology is a field that concerns all of us. Many of us suffer from dermatological conditions. Everybody knows somebody suffering from dermatological conditions, be it acne in younger adults, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, or even more severe indications. I think the message is dermatology is a very important field in medicine that concerns everybody. Our commitment to education to furthering education is just one expression of this really rewarding journey in dermatology.

Dr Volker Koscielny is the chief medical officer of Almirall and a member of the company´s management board. He trained as a doctor at the Charité in Berlin - one of the largest university hospitals in Europe – and received his Medical Doctor degree from the Freie Universität Berlin. He also holds a Business and Managerial Economics MBA from the University of Durham. With a solid clinical, academic, and scientific background, Volker has a particular interest in understanding patient needs and in demonstrating the value of medicines to patients and healthcare systems in the real world. Before joining Almirall he held various different positions in companies such as Celgene, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Servier, and Boehringer Ingelheim. As a member of the Management Board, he leads the Medical Affairs and Medical Innovation strategy, providing guidance and a strong medical perspective as a partner to the R&D and commercial teams.


15th Skin Academy programme. Almirall. Accessed April 19, 2024. https://web.cvent.com/event/e526156c-274f-4337-a17d-0f1741935fb2/websitePage:75c3ee36-b3d1-4733-b740-7d50739468f9

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