Deucravacitinib, a first-in-class oral selective tyrosine kinase 2 inhibitor, shows considerable promise as a potential novel treatment for psoriasis and a range of other chronic inflammatory diseases, Bruce E. Strober, MD, PhD, said at MedscapeLive’s annual Las Vegas Dermatology Seminar, held virtually this year.

Dr. Bruce Strober professor and chair of dermatology at the University of Connecticut, Farmington

Dr. Bruce Strober

Deucravacitinib solely blocks tyrosine kinase 2 (TYK2) signaling without touching Janus kinase (JAK) 1, 2, or 3. In so doing, it inhibits several cytokines important for inflammation: interleukin-12, IL-13, and interferon-alpha and -beta. Yet it doesn’t affect the numerous pathways mediated by JAKs 1-3, many of which relate to growth and development of cell lineages, including production of erythropoietin, thrombopoietin, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, prolactin, growth hormone, and leptin. These deucravacitinib characteristics should translate into fewer off-target side effects than with oral JAK inhibitors.

“The promise of TYK2 inhibition that’s brought to you by deucravacitinib is there will be no laboratory monitoring and the effects will be narrow in blocking inflammation,” said Dr. Strober, a dermatologist at Yale University, New Haven, Conn., and in private practice in Cromwell, Conn.

He highlighted the positive results of a randomized, phase 2, dose-ranging study conducted in 267 patients with moderate or severe plaque psoriasis. Participants had an average baseline Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI) score of 19, with a Dermatology Life Quality Index score of about 12. At the top dose of 12 mg once daily, 75% of patients achieved a PASI 75 response at week 12, and 44% reached a PASI 90, as did 69% and 44%, respectively, who were on deucravacitinib at 3 mg twice daily. Those are collective efficacy numbers similar to adalimumab (Humira) or ustekinumab (Stelara).

Deucravacitinib may provide efficacy “like one of our second-tier biological therapies, yet it will be oral,” Dr. Strober commented.

Importantly, no laboratory abnormalities were detected in this trial. Only mild side effects were documented, most prominently acne, which occurred in dose-dependent fashion in 2% of patients on 3 mg of deucravacitinib twice daily and 4% at 12 mg once daily.

“The treatment of the acne that is elicited by this drug is yet to be fully described, but I’m sure we’ll learn the best approaches, given that acne is in our wheel house,” the dermatologist added.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has announced positive results from the pivotal phase 3 POETYK PSO-1 trial. Deucravacitinib at 6 mg once daily met both of its coprimary efficacy endpoints in the study, which included 666 patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. The TYK 2 inhibitor demonstrated superiority to both placebo and oral apremilast (Otezla) at week 16. The company said the safety profile was consistent with the phase 2 results, and that the full details of the phase 3 trial will be presented next year at a major medical meeting.

In addition, positive phase 2 results were reported for deucravacitinib in the treatment of psoriatic arthritis in a randomized trial presented at the fall 2020 meeting of the American College of Rheumatology. Deucravacitinib is also under study for lupus and inflammatory bowel disease.

Dr. Strober, an active clinical trialist, reported serving as a consultant to more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies, including Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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