A-STAR – innovative research aiming to keep patients safe

A-STAR logo

A-STAR stands for The UK-Irish Atopic eczema Systemic Therapy Register. This observational research study is assessing how well patients with more severe atopic eczema respond to systemic treatments. National Eczema Society is a member of the A-STAR Study Steering Group and attends regular meetings as a patient group representative.

The main aim of A-STAR is to measure the safety and effectiveness of existing and new systemic treatments for atopic eczema. Systemic treatments include the immunosuppressant drugs azathioprine, ciclosporin and methotrexate, and the biologic drug dupilumab. Any patient who is started on or switching to one of these treatments is eligible to be enrolled in the study, provided they are seeing a dermatologist in one of the participating centres. Doctors at these centres are encouraged to approach eligible patients to take part in the study.

A-STAR records at regular intervals the disease severity, impact on people’s quality of life, and safety profiles of the different systemic treatments used in NHS clinical practice. This data is especially useful when people are taking these treatments for longer periods of time. It is hoped this information will help doctors treat people with atopic eczema more effectively in the future.

Another aim of the study is to look at the ‘real life’ cost of treating eczema, examining how much these treatments cost, compared to how well they work.

Study sites and recruitment activity so far

A-STAR map of centres that are open, in set-up and due for set-up

The A-STAR study has been running for three years, and has enrolled patients from 15 locations open across England, Wales and Scotland. A-STAR has been busy setting up other new sites around the UK (see map). To date (December 2021), over 220 patients have been recruited, both adults and children.

A-STAR bio – moving towards personalised medicine

There is increasing recognition that atopic eczema is a highly complex condition with multiple causes and pathways. As well as the observational data collection, A-STAR also has an embedded bioresource. Participants have the option of giving blood and other tissue samples. A-STAR analyses DNA through these samples to understand why participants are more likely to suffer from eczema and why they respond better or worse to a specific treatment. This should lead to a more personalised approach in treating atopic eczema in the future.

For more information about A-STAR, see the A-STAR website.