Greek scientist behind the new drug for severe eczema
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Greek scientist behind the new drug for severe eczema

Τhe results of two large clinical trials of a new drug offers hope to people with an uncontrolled, moderate-to-severe form of the disease, atopic dermatitis, which is a type of eczema. Behind the new drug is the Greek scientist, George D. Yancopoulos.

The studies, lasting 16 weeks and involving nearly 1,400 people, were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. George D. Yancopoulos, the president and chief scientific officer at Regeneron, which, in partnership with Sanofi, makes the drug, said he expects the Food and Drug Administration to rule on dupilumab by March 29, 2017. The drug’s brand name will be Dupixent. The agency has given the drug breakthrough status, which provides expedited development and review of drugs for serious or life-threatening diseases.

Most patients who got the active drug, dupilumab, instead of a placebo reported that the itching began to wane within two weeks and was gone in a few months, as their skin began to clear. Nearly 40 percent of participants getting the drug saw all or almost all of their rash disappear. For some, relief was almost instantaneous.

“I knew immediately I was on the drug” and not the placebo, said Daniela Velasco, an event planner in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Within a couple of weeks, the ugly red rash that had covered 90 percent of her body was almost gone. Even better, she said, “for the first time I didn’t feel any itch at all.”

The drug blocks two specific molecules of the immune system that are overproduced in patients with this and some other allergic diseases. The only side effects were a slight increase in conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the outer membrane of the eye, and swelling at the injection site.

George D. Yancopoulos is the Founding Scientist, President and Chief Scientific Officer in Regeneron Laboratories. According to Forbes magazine, Yancopoulos’ exceptional research in Regeneron has made him a billionaire. He is the first research and development chief in the pharmaceutical industry to become a billionaire.

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