Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What would count as a "cure" for eczema?

A commenter on my most recent post took me to task for being too pessimistic about the possibility of a cure for eczema appearing in my lifetime. (For the record, I’m 41, so that means within the next 40 years.)

This raises a good question: what qualifies as a "cure"? And who cares?

You know if you care. You're an adult who lives with severe eczema, or the parent of a severely affected child.

I propose that a cure be defined as a therapy that doesn’t take that long to apply and relieves the symptoms to less than a quarter of what they were to begin with. (Take your pick of how to measure it; how about SCORAD?)

A cure would take less than 10 minutes out of your day, and you could wear a swimsuit to the beach.

Most likely a cure would take the form of a drug or biotherapy (e.g. antibody) administered as a pill, cream, or injection. It would be OK if the cure took a whole day to administer, as long as you only had to do it once a year. That would work out to about 10 minutes per day.

Intense, complicated therapy like the National Jewish Health regimen—moisturizing, wet wraps, special diet, and a team dedicated to your personal health, may work for a small number of people for a limited time, but is too expensive and impractical to count as a cure.

What about "partial" cures? Eczema is a complex disease with many aspects that affect each other: skin barrier, allergies, itch, psychology. What if we discover an agent that relieves allergies or turns off itch? Would that count as a cure?

I think it would—if it took a patient less than 10 minutes a day to apply, and they could wear a swimsuit to the beach.

In following posts, I will explore why such a cure will likely NOT happen within the next 40 years—and then I will explain why it COULD happen in the next 40 years.

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