A number of dermatology diseases have an antimicrobial and/or anti-inflammatory component. The more common of these diseases include dermatitis, acne, and various bacterial and fungal infections. NUCRYST Pharmaceuticals has chosen atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema for its first dermatology indication.
Atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema, is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the skin affecting more than 15 million people in the United States. Incidence rates are thought to be similar in other industrialized countries. The hallmark of the disease is pruritus (itchiness). The disease ranges from an occasional irritating rash to persistent and widespread inflammation covering much of the patient's body. Due to the inflammation, itching, and scratching, the skin of a person with atopic dermatitis is more likely to become infected with bacteria or viruses than someone with normal skin. The illness most often presents in infancy and childhood. Scientists estimate that 65% of patients develop symptoms in the first year of life and 90% develop symptoms by the age of five. The latest estimates suggest about 50% of patients will have symptoms recur in adulthood.
Atopic dermatitis currently has no cure and existing treatments often have undesirable side effects and do not completely meet the needs of patients. Atopic dermatitis is currently treated primarily with prescription topical steroids and topical immunomodulators, or TIMs. Prescription topical steroids and TIMs in the United States generated 2004 sales of approximately $617 and $463 million respectively, according to IMS Health, a leading provider of prescription drug statistics. However, topical steroids and TIMs are also prescribed for conditions other than atopic dermatitis.
The gastrointestical, or GI, market is composed of the many diseases causing heartburn, acid indigestion and bowel disorders. Many GI diseases exhibit both infection and inflammation and represent potential targets for NUCRYST's silver nanocrystals. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) comprises ulcerative colitis and Crohn's Disease and is a natural progression for the development program. Many of the cytokins identified that cause inflammation in skin diseases have also been implicated in IBD. NUCRYST is in early proof-of-concept and formualtion development in this area.
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Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease are typically treated with anti-inflammatories, immunomodulators, corticosteroids, antibiotics or other treatments. According to IMS Health, US prescription drug sales for the treatment of IBD were approximately $1.1 billion in 2004.