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Omalizumab effective at managing cold urticaria, symptomatic dermographism

A therapy commonly prescribed for treating chronic spontaneous urticaria is also effective in treating two forms of inducible urticaria, according to two recently-published studies.

In the papers, researchers from Charité—Universitätsmedizin Berlin, a large teaching hospital in Berlin, show omalizumab to be highly effective against both cold urticaria and symptomatic dermographism. The two conditions can strongly impact quality-of-life. Patients with cold urticaria often cannot hold items colder than room temperature or go swimming. In patients with symptomatic dermographism, severe itching can arise from even gentle friction such as that caused by clothing.

The studies looking at cold urticaria and symptomatic dermographism were published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on Apr. 4, 2017.

In each investigator-initiated, multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, researchers from the Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergology at Charité treated the patient groups for a period of three months. There were 61 patients with symptomatic dermographism in that study, and 31 patients in the cold urticaria study.

Objective measures of participants’ urticaria provocation thresholds were taken at baseline, and every four weeks after the second dose of omalizumab was administered. A final measurement was also taken two weeks after the final dose.

The results showed that treatment with omalizumab led to significant improvements in symptoms in both groups of patients, and prevented symptoms in nearly half of all patients with cold urticaria and symptomatic dermographism, even after exposure to the relevant stimuli.

“Our results show that patients with severe forms of physical urticaria can benefit from treatment with omalizumab,” said senior author Prof. Martin Metz, MD, in a press release. He said the therapy is currently only licensed for use in patients with chronic spontaneous urticaria.

“However, given our data on the drug’s effectiveness in patients with cold urticaria and symptomatic dermographism, we are hopeful that the drug will be made available to both of these patient groups,” he said. Dr. Metz is a dermatology specialist at Charité’s Comprehensive Allergy Centre.

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