BACKGROUND Interleukin-31 may play a role in the pathobiologic mechanism of atopic dermatitis and pruritus. We wanted to assess the efficacy and safety of nemolizumab (CIM331), a humanized antibody against interleukin-31 receptor A, in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. METHODS In this phase 2, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 12-week trial, we assigned adults with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis that was inadequately controlled by topical treatments to receive subcutaneous nemolizumab (at a dose of 0.1 mg, 0.5 mg, or 2.0 mg per kilogram of body weight) or placebo every 4 weeks or an exploratory dose of 2.0 mg of nemolizumab per kilogram every 8 weeks. The primary end point was the percentage improvement from baseline in the score on the pruritus visual-analogue scale (on which a negative change indicates improvement) at week 12. Secondary end points included changes in the score on the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI, on which a negative change indicates improvement), and body-surface area of atopic dermatitis. RESULTS Of 264 patients who underwent randomization, 216 (82%) completed the study. At week 12, among the patients who received nemolizumab every 4 weeks, changes on the pruritus visual-analogue scale were -43.7% in the 0.1-mg group, -59.8% in the 0.5-mg group, and -63.1% in the 2.0-mg group, versus -20.9% in the placebo group (P<0.01 for all comparisons). Changes on the EASI were -23.0%, -42.3%, and -40.9%, respectively, in the nemolizumab groups, versus -26.6% in the placebo group. Respective changes in body-surface area affected by atopic dermatitis were -7.5%, -20.0%, and -19.4% with nemolizumab, versus -15.7% with placebo. Among the patients receiving nemolizumab every 4 weeks, treatment discontinuations occurred in 9 of 53 patients (17%) in the 0.1-mg group, in 9 of 54 (17%) in the 0.5-mg group, and in 7 of 52 (13%) in the 2.0-mg group, versus in 9 of 53 (17%) in the placebo group. CONCLUSIONS In this phase 2 trial, nemolizumab at all monthly doses significantly improved pruritus in patients with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis, which showed the efficacy of targeting interleukin-31 receptor A. The limited size and length of the trial preclude conclusions regarding adverse events.
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