Luma Therapeutics



By: Wenfei Xie, MD

You may be very familiar with the standard treatments prescribed for psoriasis – creams, light therapy, pills, or biologic injections.  And you probably aren’t surprised to learn new medications are introduced every year as our understanding of psoriasis broadens.

But what if I told you that a new psoriasis treatment in development by Luma Therapeutics is actually an innovative and modern twist on a very safe and effective treatment that was introduced over 100 years ago by a dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic?  In this post we’ll explore how this old therapy has been reinvented.

The treatment is called the Goeckerman regimen (named after Dr. William Goeckerman), and despite being very effective, it is messy and time consuming.  With the creation of less labor intensive treatments, it has fallen out of favor with most dermatologists.  Now there are only a few psoriasis treatment centers in the country that still perform the Goeckerman regimen or a modified version of it.  Now, Luma Therapeutics has developed an  innovative technology in an attempt to harness the outstanding safety and efficacy of the Goeckerman regimen while eliminating the associated messiness and downtime.

The traditional Goeckerman regimen has 3 components – coal tar, occlusion, and UV-B light treatment. Here’s a demonstration.

Patient with psoriasis getting an occlusive wrap with coal tar during Goeckerman Therapy

Patient entering a UVB light chamber during Goeckerman Therapy

Psoriasis has a complex mechanism of action and affects everyone differently. That is why the Goeckerman regimen, with its triple therapy, is so effective.

  1. The coal tar stops DNA synthesis in the patches of psoriasis and decreases the thickness of the top layer of skin.
  2. The occlusion decreases inflammation by restoring the skin’s ability to retain water. It also helps heal the psoriasis by increasing the local temperature and pH and may also help the coal tar penetrate the skin.
  3. The UV-B light triggers the death of the activated immune system cells (T-cells) that cause excessive skin cell production and inflammation. This allows for extended clearance of the psoriasis.

A study at one of the leading dermatology departments in the country on patients with psoriasis that was resistant to other therapies (like injections) showed that after 12 weeks of Goeckerman, 100% of the patients achieved at least a 75% improvement in their psoriasis (Ref: Pubmed 16019624).  Another study showed that the average time to achieve 90% clearance in psoriasis was only 18 days.  90% of those patients were clear after 8 months, and 73% remained clear after 1 year or more. Many patients can stay clear for well over a year, if not several years (Ref: Pubmed 6886105).

In addition to being very effective, Goeckerman is very safe. There is no risk of skin thinning or some of the other negative side effects that can potentially be seen with long-term use of topical steroids.  There are no internal medications to take, no blood work that needs to be checked, and no injections to self-administer.

As you can see, Goeckerman is a wonderful therapy for psoriasis but can be messy, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. Thankfully for patients suffering with psoriasis, Luma Therapeutics has made a breakthrough by adapting this safe and effective ‘old school’ regimen in an innovative, high-tech way.  By modernizing Goeckerman treatment, Luma Therapeutics is creating a clean, user-friendly treatment that can be administered easily at home without significant downtime.  As a dermatologist, I am excited by new therapies like the Luma Light System, which have the potential to make managing psoriasis easier and more convenient for patients.  Stay tuned for updates on Luma’s technology!

Author: Wenfei Xie

Dr. Wenfei Xie is a dermatologist in Kansas City, Missouri and is affiliated with Shawnee Mission Medical Center. She received her medical degree from University of Michigan Medical School and has been in practice for ten years. She is one of 13 doctors at Shawnee Mission Medical Center who specialize in Dermatology. She also speaks multiple languages, including Chinese (Mandarin).