Monoclonals and Herpes Vaccine to Top Dermatology Meeting

Miriam E. Tucker

March 01, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC — Data on the use of investigational monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, angioedema episodes in patients with chronic urticaria, and new phase 2 data on a vaccine for genital herpes are among the potentially game-changing results that will be presented here at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) 74th Annual Meeting.

Also presented with be results from a phase 2 study on the anti-interleukin-31 receptor A monoclonal antibody natalizumab for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis.

"Right now we have wonderful biologic treatments for psoriasis that have revolutionized the way we take care of those patients," said Robert Brodell, MD, from the University of Mississippi in Jackson, who is a member of the scientific assembly committee. "We really need those kinds of drugs for people with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis who aren't responding to the usual approaches," he added.

Dr Brodell said he hopes to learn "something that will be a very important part of our practice in just a few years."

He said he also hopes that new data on the use of omalizumab for angioedema episodes in patients with chronic idiopathic or spontaneous urticaria could potentially alter the current treatment paradigm. "This is an expensive targeted therapy, but there's a lot of anecdotal information in the literature that suggests this will be a breakthrough drug," he told Medscape Medical News.

The oral abstract that might draw the most attention is a phase 2 study on GEN-003, a therapeutic vaccine for genital herpes. If the vaccine is effective, the problems with acceptance that have faced other vaccines, including the one for shingles, will likely not be an issue.

"If you've got genital herpes and a shot might be able to significantly reduce the outbreaks, I think that would have a quick uptake," Dr Brodell said.

A special Hot Topics session will feature talks on melanoma and cutaneous oncology and healthcare reform. Other sessions will address AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, and the evolving regulatory landscape.

New Topics, New Approaches

About 90 of the sessions — comprising roughly one-quarter of all the educational sessions — are labeled "new" in the program, indicating topics or approaches that have not been covered in previous meetings. "We've worked very hard to make each meeting different by introducing new content," said Ilona Frieden, MD, from the University of California, San Francisco, who is a member of the assembly committee.

The line-up of plenaries will feature cutting-edge talks on genomics in dermatology by Amy Paller, MD, from the Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, on tumescent drug delivery by Jeffrey Klein, MD, a dermatologic surgeon from San Juan Capistrano and Newport Beach in California, and on chronic itch by Gil Yosipovitch, MD, from Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia.

Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will deliver a special keynote.

The aim is for these to be more like TED talks than standard academic lectures.

"They're all really superb speakers," said Dr Frieden, who will chair the plenary session. "The aim is for these to be more like TED talks than standard academic lectures, to engage the audience. It should be a fantastic session."

There will be two special symposia, requested by previous meeting attendees: Therapeutic and Diagnostic Pearls will be presented by Seemal Desai, MD, from Innovative Dermatology in Plano, Texas, and Whitney High, from the University of Colorado Denver; and What's New in Dermatology will be presented by Marc Brown, MD, from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, and Allan Halpern, MD, from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Patient Sessions

Brand-new one-on-one sessions that involve actors playing patients represent "one of the most innovative things we're doing," Dr Frieden added.

Although such sessions are "fairly expensive and labor-intensive," the AAD "has decided that these are very important parts of trying to keep up our skills as physicians in the broadest sense," she explained.

"It's an unbelievably special thing for a large meeting to do anything one-on-one," said Dr Brodell, adding that the sessions will be videotaped for future educational purposes.

For the first time, special hands-on workshops will address wound closures and varicose or telangiectatic leg veins. During these workshops, experts will demonstrate techniques and attendees will be allowed to practice on either cadavers or simulation models, Dr Brodell explained. Like last year, there will also be workshops on nail surgery and dermal fillers.

Two live videocasts from a dermatology practice, this year demonstrating basic and advanced botulinum toxin techniques and final results, will be followed by discussions from an expert panel.

"Some of the most popular things are the hands-on and live demonstrations," said Dr Brodell. "These are relatively new to our meeting; we've been piloting them over the past several years."

Attendance at all the sessions will be monitored to see which of the new formats are the most popular and should be continued.

"Only time will tell, based on evaluations by membership and final breakdown on costs and expenses, which of these will become a bigger and bigger part of the meeting," Dr Brodell said.

Overall, "there's a lot of innovation," said Dr Frieden. "I would say this is arguably the best dermatology meeting in the world, and I've been to many."

Dr Brodell reports serving as a consultant for and/or receiving honoraria from AbbVie, Galderma Laboratories, Genentech, Hoffman-La Roche, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and PharmaDerm; and being a principal investigator for Genentech and Janssen. Dr Frieden reports serving on advisory boards for and receiving honoraria from Galderma USA; serving on a monitoring safety board for Otsuka Pharmaceutical; and serving as a consultant for and receiving honoraria from Pierre Fabre Dermo-Cosmetique USA.


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