Apremilast is in development as an oral treatment for oral ulcers in people with active Behçet’s disease. Behçet’s disease (or Behçet’s syndrome) is a rare and poorly understood condition that results in inflammation of the blood vessels and tissues. The condition is characterised by flare-ups (relapses) followed by periods where the symptoms disappear (remission). The cause of Behçet’s disease is thought to be an interaction between genetics and environmental factors. As Behçet’s disease affects multiple systems it has various symptoms such as mouth or genital ulcers, painful eyes and blurred vision, acne-like spots and painful joints. The most commonly reported symptoms are oral and genital ulcers.
Apremilast works by suppressing the activity of inflammatory pathway caused by molecules such as interleukins and tumour necrosis factors. In turn this reduces inflammation. Currently, specific curative treatment options for Behçet’s disease are very limited and treatment relies on controlling symptoms and relieving pain. Apremilast has shown promise in targeting oral ulcers in patients with Behçet’s disease, and if licensed it could be an effective treatment option for this patient group.
Anifrolumab is a drug designed to specifically block type I IFN signalling by binding to part of the type I IFN receptor and therefore preventing activity of all IFNs that are involved in the inflammatory pathway. If licensed, anifrolumab will offer an add-on treatment option for patients with moderately to severely active SLE.