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Jim Lee, MD, PhD, Reflects on New Research at AAD and Advances in Dermatology


"It's an exciting time" in dermatology, said Lee, who reflects on late-breaker data and other research presented at the 2024 AAD Annual Meeting.

Jim Lee, MD, PhD

Jim Lee, MD, PhD

"It's a very exciting time for patients, for physicians, and companies who are developing treatments for for patients with skin conditions, specifically inflammatory dermatology," Jim Lee, MD, PhD, told Dermatology Times in an interview following the 2024 American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting in San Diego, California. Lee is group vice president, head inflammation and autoimmunity at Incyte.

"Even though most of these diseases are not life threatening, the skin diseases have a significant impact on patients. The itch keeps them up at night, and has a terrible impact on their quality of life," he said. "And the fact that they see their skin every day really impacts their psyche and bothers them a great deal, and therefore has even greater impact on their quality of life," Lee said. "So it's really important for us to develop and continue to develop new treatments for these patients."

When asked about the meeting itself, Lee noted there was a lot of great research presented by academic clinicians as well as industry. "Obviously, we're biased. We're very excited about our prurigo nodularis data with our Jak 1-specific molecule povorcitinib."1

Results from that phase 2 study [INCB54707] was shared in a late-breakers session at the AAD meeting. Primary and secondary endpoints of the study were met; as compared with placebo, more patients on the drug achieved a ≥4-point improvement in itch Numerical Rating Scale (NRS4) and achieved an Investigator’s Global Assessment Treatment Success (IGA-TS) score of 0 or 1 with a ≥2-grade improvement from baseline.1

"The phase 2 data from our prurigo nodularis data confirm our belief that it does have the potential to be best in class," Lee said. "What we saw was a very rapid and robust response in itch. And we also saw a very rapid improvement in skin lesions."

Lee noted prurigo nodularis is often very difficult to treat. "Most of the current options are inadequate for many of these patients," he added. "It was very surprising to see that quick of a response in these patients. We're very excited that that that this has the potential to really be a great treatment for these patients, especially patients that don't have an adequate response to current therapy."

Lee briefly spoke about some of the other research presented at the AAD Annual Meeting. "There's also an oral Jak 1 inhibitor molecule that's in development for hidradenitis suppurativa, currently in phase 3," Lee added. "And we just started a phase 3 program for patients with vitiligo with more extensive disease than the normally treated with ruxolitinib cream," he told Dermatology Times.

The meeting was filled with good work, Lee added, noting the importance of pushing forward for improved patient care. "It's great to see the continued work, the continued development of many different targets, targeted therapies for diseases like atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis, and also for less common conditions, like lichen planus and other conditions like that," he said. "It's very encouraging to see and also very encouraging for patients to know that that the work is ongoing, and that hopefully we'll have something better for their condition so that their lives can improve."

Diverse research and approaches are necessary in dermatology, he noted. "We have to remember that not all diseases are driven by a single signal, in terms of 1 cytokine or 1 cell type. Many, many of these skin conditions are very complex," Lee explained. "They involve different pathways, and so you have to really understand the disease."

"I think that's the other important aspect. I think of all the work that's ongoing. That is, the better understanding of what derives the condition or the disease in patients," Lee said. "I think we're understanding now that not all patients are the same. They can have the same disease, but they actually have different drivers."

"So that's going to be the next step, the next chapter if you will, to really understand which patients have which pathway driving the disease for that specific patient right now. We don't have good biomarkers, we don't have good predictors of these patients in terms of what is really driving their disease," he added. "I think that's an area that I think needs to continue to develop. And I think both companies and academic labs and professors are working on this to just to better understand the diseases themselves so we can develop better targeted therapies, more precision medicine for these patients."

"The future is very bright," he added. "I've been working in the dermatology field for almost 25 years now. It's been great to see all of these advancements for patients that really didn't have anything, or just had older immune suppressants that had lots of side effects. And what we continue to see more selective therapies, therapies that actually target important pathways and disease pathogenesis."

"It's great time to be in research. It's a great time to be in dermatology. And I think all of us who work in this space, really do it to help patients," Lee told Dermatology Times.


1. Efficacy and Safety of Povorcitinib in Patients with Prurigo Nodularis: Results From a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Phase 2 Study. Session S050 – Late-Breaking Research. Presented at the 2024 AAD Annual Meeting; March 8 - 10, 2024; San Diego, California.

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