When Haley Naik, MD, joined the University of California, San Francisco, as a dermatologist in 2015, she was struck by the dearth of data in the medical literature about hidradenitis suppurativa (HS).
“For decades there were no datasets to begin to understand HS — its clinical course, how patients respond to medications, and how quality of life improves for patients with therapy,” Naik, who directs the HS program at UCSF, said in an interview. Inspired to improve the bleak HS knowledge landscape, she began to systematically collect information from HS patient visits, “to try to better understand how treatments were helping them or not and also to better understand their quality-of-life impact,” she said. “This also facilitated research in HS, but over time it became clear that there was a growing need for a larger effort.”
But in 2020, Naik teamed up with investigative dermatologist Michelle Lowes, MBBS, PhD, to launch The Hidradenitis Suppurativa Prospective Observational Registry and Biospecimen Repository (HS PROGRESS), a national multicenter study designed to prospectively collect high-quality longitudinal clinical and biological data on patients with HS across major academic institutions and to care for HS patients. To date, more than 500 patients are enrolled at 12 participating sites, and 4 more sites plan to join the consortium by the end of 2023. The goal is to enroll a total of 8,000 patients, which will make it the largest dataset of its kind.
“Each site investigator is a physician who specializes in taking care of HS patients,” said Naik, who is the study’s principal investigator. “These are people who are conducting active research in various aspects of HS, and they’re trusted members of the medical community.”
She highlighted the three main objectives of HS PROGRESS. The first objective is to develop a longitudinal cohort of HS patients so that investigators can understand the clinical course of HS and effectiveness of treatments. The second is to collect biospecimens from patients with HS for translational studies “that can help to drive drug development, help us identify biomarkers that can help us predict disease course and predict patient response to therapies, so we know exactly what to give them,” she explained. The third objective is to provide patients with HS with the opportunity to be recruited for clinical trials, “so they have access to cutting-edge therapies and know what’s happening in this space.”
The goal of collecting biospecimens is to provide them to multiple investigators to improve the understanding of HS biology and treatment. “Our thought is to apply next generation techniques to these biospecimens to get metagenomic, transcriptomic, and genomic data to better understand HS biology so that we can identify targets for novel therapy,” Naik said.
Although HS is estimated to affect 1% of Western populations, the tumor necrosis alpha (TNF)-inhibitor adalimumab remains the only Food and Drug Administration-approved therapy for the condition.
However, Naik said that there are many promising drugs on the horizon for HS, especially interleukin (IL)-17 inhibitors. “One of the most exciting things about these drugs is that they set the bar higher for what we can expect out of therapies for HS, such as reporting a HiSCR (HS Clinical Response) score 75, which is the equivalent of 75% improvement in inflammatory HS lesions without an increase in draining tunnels,” she said. “This is well beyond what adalimumab had demonstrated in landmark trials in 2015. The safety profile on IL-17 inhibitors looks great, too.”
JAK inhibitors also hold promise for HS. “It’s going to be key to see how these drugs perform in the real-world setting in our average HS patients who may have comorbidities,” Naik said. “This is where an effort like HS PROGRESS will carry weight, because in a dataset like this, we’re going to be able to ask questions like, is there a class of drugs that works better for one specific phenotype of HS, or for patients who have a younger age of onset, or who are earlier in their disease course? These are questions we can’t ask in the context of a clinical trial, but we can ask in the context of real-world data from many practices.”
In addition to USCF, the 11 study locations participating in HS PROGRESS are the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Mayo Clinic; Penn State University, Hershey; University of Virginia, Charlottesville; Washington University in St. Louis; University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Henry Ford Health, Detroit; University of Minnesota; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Duke University, Durham, N.C.; and University of Miami.
Naik disclosed that she has received grant support from AbbVie; consulting fees from 23andme, AbbVie, Aristea Therapeutics, Nimbus Therapeutics, Medscape, Sonoma Biotherapeutics, DAVA Oncology, Boehringer Ingelheim, UCB, and Novartis; and investigator fees from Pfizer; and holds shares in Radera. She is also an associate editor for JAMA Dermatology and a board member of the Hidradenitis Suppurativa Foundation.
This story originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.