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Like many psoriasis sufferers, Tony Waters went to doctor after doctor, seeking help from more dermatologists than he can remember. He finally gave up when none of the treatments worked.
Psoriasis - a chronic skin disorder characterized by dry, scaly skin - covered the Elk Grove Village man's body - including his entire scalp, with patches on his face and neck. It was even in his ear canal, affecting his hearing. "It was tough to be in public," Waters said. The flaking between his eyebrows and on his eyelids was painful and impaired his vision. He lost both fingernails and toenails as the skin under the nails peeled. "It was really gross," he recalled.
Then, about three years ago, Waters saw an ad for a clinical trial at NorthShore and, with renewed hope, he enrolled in the study.
Waters is one of many patients with psoriasis who found relief with the injectable drug Brodalumab, a protein designed to attacked a specific cell pathway responsible for inflammation, explained Stephanie Mehlis, MD, NorthShore's Dermatology Clinical Trials Director.
"Within 12 hours of the first shot, I could tell it was working," Waters said. "Within a month, my scalp was completely clear, and after a couple of months, my nails started to grow back." Now, the terrible itchiness and scratching is gone, the swelling around his joints is gone, and he no longer has to spend long periods of time covering himself in emollients every morning and night.
"The early trial results are great", said Dr. Mehlis, who also holds an academic appointment at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. "This has really been life changing for many patients."
Waters now injects himself at home every two weeks and sees Dr. Mehlis once every three months. "I'm healthier now than I've ever been," he said. "I know there are only select hospitals with these trials, and I feel lucky to be getting care from the best doctors. If this helps other patients in the future, that will be fantastic, too."
Promising research in psoriasis means even more drugs likely will be available to choose from in the near future. "This is a lifelong disease, and it's fantastic to have these new drugs available to treat our patients," said Dr. Mehlis. NorthShore continues to play a leading role as a select site for psoriasis treatment clinical trials.