Talk about a sunny reception: Speakers greeted the 350-plus attendees at the latest MauiDerm conference with plenty of good news about breakthroughs in treatment for conditions like psoriasis, melanoma, and atopic dermatitis.
Molecular antibodies in particular were a hot topic at the Grand Wailea Resort in Kihei, Hawaii. “Dermatologists have really entered into a molecular age,” says Dr. George Martin, the Hawaii dermatologist who created MauiDerm and serves as its program director. “These tools are changing patients’ lives and saving their lives in some cases.”
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The five-day January program featured dozens of sessions and workshops along with a Q&A featuring the CEOs of Merz USA, Allergan, and Biopelle. “We asked their opinion on all things medical, pharmaceutical, and political,” Martin says. Other highlights included a reception devoted to women in dermatology and the Alan Shalita Memorial Lecture featuring Dr. James Leyden speaking about acne.
Other major topics of discussion at MauiDerm included:
- The breaking news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had just approved secukinumab (Cosentyx) to treat certain patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. According to Martin, the drug -- the first of three monoclonal anti-IL 17 antibodies in the pipeline -- is producing powerful results, including 100% clearance in 40% of patients. While it’s not a cure, the drug is a major advance with a good safety profile, Martin says. Going forward, “doctors are going to have to understand how this class of molecules work and who’s a candidate for it.”
- Dupilumab, a novel biologic agent targeting IL-4 and IL-13, showed positive results in a phase 2b study as a treatment for certain patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. The study results were released just weeks before the MauiDerm conference. The drug shows promising scores in terms of quality of life and levels of itch, and it has potential to be a game changer, Martin says: “Right now, we’re really limited to topical and systemic steroids, antihistamines, and systemic immunosuppressants, and they all have their own set of toxicities.”
- Advances in treatment of melanoma are moving medicine closer to potentially turning the devastating form of cancer into a chronic and manageable disease, Martin says. “The median survival rate for stage 4 had been six months. Now, thanks to advances in systemic melanoma therapy, using combinations of immune checkpoint modulators, 90% of a small subset of patients are living a year.”
- Other major developments include better treatments for toenail fungus and the painless use of photodynamic therapy to treat actinic keratoses, an extremely common condition in Hawaii, Martin says.
MauiDerm: NP + PA dermatology meetings are planned for this year in Colorado Springs and Washington D.C. MauiDerm for Dermatologists will return to Hawaii in January 2016.
More MauiDerm Coverage
Welcome to Maui Derm 2015
MauiDerm 2015: New drugs bring promising treatments for derm conditions
MauiDerm 2015: Severe psoriasis may indicate systemic inflammation
DISCLOSURES for Dr. Martin:
Consultant: Pfizer, DUSA, Valeant
Advisory Boards: Anacor, Abbvie, DUSA, Celgene, LEO, Janssen, Valeant,
Speaker: DUSA, Celgene,LEO, Valeant