Jeffrey Stark, MD: Safety and Efficacy of Bimekizumab as Psoriasis Treatment

Jeffrey Stark, MD, discusses the recent studies, BE BRIGHT, BE SURE, and BE VIVID, in which investigators analyzed the impact bimekizumab had on patients with psoriasis.

Rheumatology Network interviewed Jeffrey Stark, MD, to discuss the recent studies, BE BRIGHT, BE SURE, and BE VIVID, in which investigators analyzed the impact bimekizumab had on patients with psoriasis. Stark is the Head of Immunology Medical Affairs at UCB. He explains the study designs, the clinical significance of the results, and future research UCB plans on tackling.

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Below is a preview of the conversation:

Rheumatology Network: Can you tell me a bit about bimekizumab and how it works to help clear psoriasis?

Jeffrey Stark, MD: Thank you, Lana. It's exciting to have the opportunity to talk about bimekizumab. As you know, and some of your listeners may know as well, bimekizumab is an investigational treatment that's part of the clinical development program at UCB. I would say it’s a unique molecule and that it's the first molecule of its kind to selectively target not only interleukin (IL)-17a, but also IL-17f. The reason that's important is we understand that that well, IL-17f and IL-17a share some structural similarities, IL-17f can actually drive inflammation separately from IL-17a. And therefore, there is a hypothesis that inhibiting both cytokines may have a greater suppressive effect on inflammation. Inflammation that we see manifest as skin plaques in patients with plaque psoriasis. Some very intriguing data specific to psoriasis as well gives us great hopes for what the bimekizumab might bring to those patients. In particular, we know that IL-17f is actually more abundant in simulations than IL-17a in patients who have plaque psoriasis. And so, this has been a molecule about which there's been much excitement at UCB and certainly in the clinical community.

RN: What first sparked your interest in evaluating long term safety and efficacy of this drug?

JS: Long-term safety and efficacy are always important topics but never more so than when the disease that you're studying is a chronic and lifelong disease. Patients who develop plaque psoriasis have that disease for the rest of their lives, therefore we certainly hope that they achieve a state of good control. But long-term data on efficacy and safety are important because patients typically require medications long-term, and therefore they and their treating health care providers really want to know what to expect from a medicine when not taken over a brief period of time, but over a longer period of time. And so, we've really invested in developing a body of data around the long-term safety and efficacy of bimekizumab, most notably through the BE BRIGHT study. And our hope is that this long-term efficacy and safety data will really provide new insights for the dermatology community as they're making decisions about the treatment of their patients, but also for UCB as we continue to study bimekizumab not only in psoriasis, but also in other potential indications and other disease state areas in the future.

RN: What is the clinical significance of these results?

JS: The clinical significance is really what we care about most at the end of the day. It's wonderful to generate new data. It's wonderful to explore science. But ultimately, we care about the clinical application of these data and how they have the potential in the future to contribute to new standards of patient care for patients who are living with plaque psoriasis. And so, these data really add to the body of data already published for bimekizumab from the phase 3 clinical program in psoriasis and we hope will offer new insights to the dermatology community, but also reflect UCB’s commitment to improving the standard of care for patients who are living with plaque psoriasis. We also know that in the real world, patients frequently have an inadequate response to therapies that may be available to them today and have to switch therapies in order to work towards optimal control of their disease. And so not only the long-term nature of these data, but also the fact that these data help to inform help patients switching from adalimumab and ustekinumab to bimekizumab may achieve higher thresholds of efficacy and better control of their moderate-to-severe psoriasis is certainly an important way in which these data contribute to the understanding of disease in the clinical community.

RN: Is there anything else you would like our audience to know before we wrap up?

JS: I'd like to first say thank you for the opportunity to talk about bimekizumab. It's an exciting topic for me, and certainly we hope these data also are exciting and valuable to the clinical community. But I’d just like to reinforce that bimekizumab is exciting, because of 2 reasons: certainly, the efficacy signals that we've seen in the studies are exciting, but also because of the science behind it. And the fact that it really is the first and only treatment, or potential treatment, of its kind that targets these multiple aspects of the IL17 cytokine family, both IL-17a and IL-17f. We've had the opportunity to mention but I’d like to revisit that UCB is conducting the largest simultaneous clinical development program for a single molecule that we ever have, which is reflective of our enthusiasm and optimism about bimekizumab and we really look forward to the opportunity to bring out further data not only for plaque psoriasis but for hidradenitis suppurativa and the spectrum of spondyloarthritis diseases that we're studying in rheumatology as well.