The Implications of Combination Treatments of Ultraviolet Phototherapy and Biologics


biovia-lightResearchers can build on a recent study confirming the the safety and effectiveness of combination treatments of ultraviolet phototherapy and biologics for the treatment of skin disorders. Image URL: Flickr user Psoriasis-Netz

Combination therapy may be the new frontier of treatment for skin disorders like psoriasis, and soon it may be possible to treat these disorders with biologics and ultraviolet light. Instead of just treating patients with a biologic antibodies, life science researchers are starting to look for adjunctive treatments that improve the efficacy of biotherapeutics. The potential for success in this area of research was demonstrated by a recent review paper that compiled the results of ten studies to confirm the safety and efficacy of a combination of biologic and narrowband ultraviolet B (NBUVB) phototherapy for the treatment of moderate-to-severe psoriasis.1

Biologic drugs treat psoriasis by interfering with molecules in the inflammatory pathways that are responsible for the skin condition. For instance, etanercept, adalimumab and infliximab all target tumor necrosis factors, while ustekinumab targets interleukin-12/23. Another way to treat psoriasis is with narrow-band ultraviolet phototherapy. In this treatment, the skin is exposed to a narrow range of ultraviolet light, which slows the growth of affected cells.2 However, not all patients respond to biologic or ultraviolet phototherapy alone, so the real breakthrough of this review was the implication that combination therapy can provide effective psoriasis relief, even for patients who don’t respond to monotherapy.3

These revelations provide an opening for life science companies that are looking to discover and develop novel biologics for the treatment of skin diseases. Going forward, biologics developers can examine the efficacy of combining ultraviolet phototherapy with psoriasis biologics that have not yet been studied in combination with light. They may also examine the effects of combination therapies on other skin disorders, such as vitiligo and eczema. As a result, life science companies can increase the efficacy of their existing products and develop novel combination treatments that are more effective than their monotherapy counterparts.

Pooling the Expertise of Different Scientists

The successful development of combination biologic and ultraviolet phototherapy treatments for psoriasis and other skin disorders will depend on the input of multiple scientists in different departments. Immunologists who study inflammatory pathways will need to work with physics scientists who focus on the way light can be harnessed for medical treatments and with medical experts who are particularly familiar with specific skin disorders. Through effective collaboration, they can come up with combination therapies that are much more effective than the monotherapies that any one of them would have developed alone.

Moreover, by working together, these scientists may be able to determine why combination therapies of biologics and ultraviolet phototherapy work for patients who don’t respond to either treatment alone. The recent study on combination therapies for psoriasis only observes that combination therapies are more effective than monotherapies and that they are well-tolerated, but it does not offer a physiological explanation. Answering this question would have major implications for future research, as it could highlight which skin disorders are most likely to respond well to combination therapies, and it could also help scientists choose the most promising biologic drug candidates during the screening process.

By making it possible for research teams to access and analyze each other’s data, modern software facilitates the interdepartmental collaboration that is necessary to develop combination therapies of biologics and ultraviolet phototherapy. These systems enable the creation of web-based workspaces where team members can upload new data and comment on each other’s results. As scientists with different perspectives weigh in on the overall problem, the research team will be able to develop combination treatment solutions that take a broad range of academic principles into consideration.

Disparate Data Access

Because such a wide range of factors must be considered when developing combination therapies of biologics and ultraviolet phototherapy—from the molecular targets of the drugs to the optimal band range of light—scientists will have to rely on modern technology in order to efficiently collect and compile necessary data. In antiquated laboratory information storage systems, data from different research teams and departments would be locked away in disparate silos, making it difficult for other scientists to access it when necessary. By adopting a more modern information storage platform, labs can ensure that all researchers can find the information they need whenever they need it, regardless of the subject area.

Because of the collaborative capabilities of modern software solutions, they greatly improve research efficiency. Rather than worrying about the logistical challenges of information sharing, scientists can focus on conducting innovative experiments. Thus, the software cuts down on development time and keeps combination therapy research moving forward, no matter how many scientists are on a particular project.

BIOVIA OneLab is an advanced informatics systems that offers the collaboration and data storage capabilities that research groups need for innovative research on combination therapies. Contact us today to learn more about how our offerings can support research and development efficiency in your lab.

  1. “Combining biologic and phototherapy treatments for psoriasis: safety, efficacy, and patient acceptability,” July 28, 2016,
  2. “Phototherapy,” 2016,
  3. “Combining biologic and phototherapy treatments for moderate-to-severe psoriasis,” August 10, 2016,