In just eight weeks, skin changes such as redness, blisters and scratch marks were reduced by fifty per cent.
Researchers at Hannover Medical School (MHH) and the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover Foundation (TiHo) have already been working on a treatment approach for several years. The new active ingredient is called a histamine H4 receptor antagonist. It prevents histamine, a messenger molecule, from affecting the skin cells.
Histamine promotes allergies. Increased histamine release can trigger itching and swelling. By blocking histamine, the symptoms are alleviated.
“Our assumption is that the histamine H4 receptor antagonist works regardless of the underlying causes of atopic dermatitis. We are currently investigating which patients will benefit from the new therapy”, says Professor Thomas Werfel of the MHH Dermatology Clinic.
The research team has now tested the new substance on human subjects for the first time. The study included 98 people with atopic dermatitis. The histamine H4 receptor antagonist was given to 65 subjects, while the remaining 33 subjects received a placebo. The team documented the skin changes and symptoms such as itching for eight weeks.
After eight weeks, the skin changes had significantly improved with the medication in comparison with the placebo (50% vs. 27%). Itching decreased in both groups. The research team did not observe any side effects from the histamine H4 receptor antagonist.
The MHH team is currently involved in a larger international study of around 400 patients with the aim of confirming the initial results and determining the optimal dosage of the medication.