The molecule that stops eczema itching

Development of MedON for atopic dermatitis

The molecule that stops eczema itching

“It’s a vicious circle. The more you scratch yourself, the more the immune system is triggered and then the itching gets even worse. Our patented molecule relieves the itching and that is a considerable benefit”, says Anna-Lena Spetz, professor of immunology at Stockholm University.

Clear effect demonstrated

Between 10 and 20 per cent of all children and up to 5 per cent of the adult population suffer from AD, but it affects more people indirectly. The itching gets worse at night and survey results show that parents of young children with AD have estimated the effect on life quality at the same level as parents whose children have type 1 diabetes.

“When you scratch and claw at eczema, it leads to increased inflammation and cell death, which releases free double-stranded RNA. This RNA can be taken up by endosomes in living cells and thus trigger the immune system. Our molecule blocks the uptake and we have seen very clear effects from animal models”, says Anna-Lena Spetz.

Clinical trials are the next step

The molecule is delivered via a salve and the project is currently working on recipes for mixing the salve – known as formulations – so that the molecule will be absorbed by the skin in the most effective way. In addition, a number of pre-clinical studies will be completed and published in the autumn and winter.

“We are now seeking funding so that we can start clinical trials with patients who have moderate or mild AD. We have two patents pending, considerable know-how and have established cooperation with a company that can carry out the toxicological studies, which shouldn’t be that extensive, as this is a simple product”, says Anna-Lena Spetz.

Large market

AD is a condition that is becoming more widespread. The increase is linked to urbanisation and changes in the normal bacterial flora. The market is very considerable with an annual worth in the USA alone of USD 1.3 billion for treatment that currently consists of emollient salves and cortisone.

There is some competition. In the USA, therapeutic antibodies – for those with the most severe AD – have just been approved as a pharmaceutical.

“However, it’s a systemic treatment, which can have side-effects and is therefore only for those who are worst affected. Our treatment is better for all those who do not need antibodies”, concludes Anna-Lena Spetz.

Text: Jörgen Olsson

Updated: 1 December 2017