Secukinumab Brings High PASI 75 Results in 6- to 17-Year-Olds with Psoriasis

Secukinumab proved highly effective at improving skin symptoms and quality of life in 6- to 17-year-old patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis at 24 weeks of follow-up in an ongoing 4-year phase 2 clinical trial, Adam Reich, MD, PhD, reported at Innovations in Dermatology: Virtual Spring Conference 2021.

Secukinumab (Cosentyx), a fully human monoclonal antibody that inhibits interleukin-17A, is widely approved for treatment of psoriasis in adults. In August 2020, the biologic received an expanded indication in Europe for treatment of 6- to 17-year-olds. Two phase 3 clinical trials are underway in an effort to gain a similar broadened indication in the United States to help address the high unmet need for new treatments for psoriasis in the pediatric population, said Dr. Reich, professor and head of the department of dermatology at the University of Rzeszow (Poland).

He reported on 84 pediatric patients participating in the open-label, phase 2, international study. They were randomized to one of two weight-based dosing regimens. Those in the low-dose arm received secukinumab dosed at 75 mg if they weighed less than 50 kg and 150 mg if they weighed more. In the high-dose arm, patients got secukinumab 75 mg if they weighed less than 25 kg, 150 mg if they weighed 25-50 kg, and 300 mg if they tipped the scales in excess of 50 kg.

The primary endpoint in the study was the week-12 rate of at least a 75% improvement from baseline in the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index score, or PASI 75. The rates were similar: 92.9% of patients in the high-dose arm achieved this endpoint, as did 90.5% in the low-dose arm. The PASI 90 rates were 83.3% and 78%, the PASI 100 rates were 61.9% and 54.8%, and clear or almost clear skin, as measured by the Investigator Global Assessment, was achieved in 88.7% of the high- and 85.7% of the low-dose groups. In addition,61.9% of those in the high-dose secukinumab group and 50% in the low-dose group had a score of 0 or 1 on the Children’s Dermatology Life Quality Index – indicating psoriasis has no impact on daily quality of life, he said at the conference sponsored by MedscapeLIVE! and the producers of the Hawaii Dermatology Seminar and Caribbean Dermatology Symposium.

At week 24, roughly 95% of patients in both the low- and high-dose secukinumab groups had achieved PASI 75s, 88% reached a PASI 90 response, and 67% were at PASI 100. Nearly 60% of the low-dose and 70% of the high-dose groups had a score of 0 or 1 on the Children’s Dermatology Life Quality Index.

Treatment-emergent adverse event rates were similar in the two study arms. Of note, there was one case of new-onset inflammatory bowel disease in the high-dose group, and one case of vulvovaginal candidiasis as well.

Discussant Bruce E. Strober, MD, PhD, said that, if secukinumab gets a pediatric indication from the Food and Drug Administration, as seems likely, it won’t alter his biologic treatment hierarchy.

“I treat a lot of kids with psoriasis. We have three approved drugs now in etanercept [Enbrel], ustekinumab [Stelara], and ixekizumab [Taltz]. My bias is still towards ustekinumab because it’s infrequently dosed and that’s a huge issue for children. You want to expose them to as few injections as possible, for obvious reasons: It’s easier for parents and other caregivers,” explained Dr. Strober, a dermatologist at Yale University, New Haven, Conn., and Central Connecticut Dermatology, Cromwell, Conn.

“The other issue is in IL-17 inhibition there has been a slight signal of inflammatory bowel disease popping up in children getting these drugs, and therefore you need to screen patients in this age group very carefully – not only the patients themselves, but their family – for IBD risk. If there is any sign of that I would move the IL-17 inhibitors to the back of the line, compared to ustekinumab and etanercept. Ustekinumab is still clearly the one that I think has to be used first line,” he said.

Dr. Strober offered a final word of advice for his colleagues: “You can’t be afraid to treat children with biologic therapies. In fact, preferentially I would use a biologic therapy over methotrexate or light therapy, which is really difficult for children.”

Dr. Reich and Dr. Strober reported receiving research grants from and serving as a consultant to numerous pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis, which markets secukinumab and funded the study.