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Winter 2018

// Healthy Kids Magazine

19

called crisaborole, targets enzymes that

mediate inflammation in the skin and

was developed with extensive input and

research from the Rady Children’s group.”

Another breakthrough therapy is

dupilumab, which blocks inflamma-

tory molecules and has already been

approved for adults. Researchers have

begun pediatric trials to extend these

benefits to younger patients. There are

many more innovations in the pipeline.

“Studies of three biologic agents, three

new oral medications and new topical

medications are in process or expected

in the near future,” Dr. Eichenfield says.

Kawasaki disease is considered a rare condition, but in 2017,

Rady Children’s specialists saw 109 new patients. The Hospital’s

Kawasaki Disease Clinic is following over 1,500 families.

Although KD is the most common cause of acquired heart

disease, it is poorly understood and potentially deadly.

Symptoms include fever, rash, bloodshot eyes, and red

tongue, hands, and feet. Unfortunately, clinicians don’t al-

ways diagnose KD at first, and delays can be dangerous.

“Damage is done early in disease,” says Jane Burns, MD,

director of the Kawasaki Disease Clinic and professor of pedi-

atrics at UCSD. “If you don’t get to children early and treat them,

one in four will develop irreversible coronary artery damage.”

KD is a complex ge-

netic disease involving

multiple genes. There

are theories as to what

causes it—bacteria,

virus, environmental

pollution—but no one

knows for sure yet.

The current treat-

ment is intravenous

immunoglobulin (IVIG),

which protects the heart,

but some kids don’t

respond to it. It’s also

pricey, and children

in developing nations

often go untreated.

“IVIG is the most ex-

pensive product in our

pharmacy,” Dr. Burns

says. “The average cost for a toddler is $15,000 to $20,000.”

The team is looking at infliximab, an anti-inflammatory

therapy approved for Crohn’s disease. They are studying

whether infliximab, rather than a second dose of IVIG, is

better for kids who don’t respond to IVIG. Infliximab costs

significantly less than IVIG.

In another effort to repurpose an existing drug, one of

Dr. Burns’s team members, Adriana Tremoulet, MD, is also

studying atorvastatin, commonly known by the brand name

Lipitor. Early studies have shown that the cholesterol-

lowering drug may heal coronary artery damage in children

with KD.

Better Treatments for

KAWASAKI

DISEASE

KD is a complex

genetic disease

involving multiple

genes. There are

theories as to

what causes it,

but no one knows

for sure yet.

“After no new

drug approvals for

eczema since 2001,

there are two first-in-class

medications approved

in the last few

months.”

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