Asthma Patients May Breathe More Easily Thanks To Game Changing Drug

Lee Rannals for — Your Universe Online

Researchers said on Tuesday that a new type of asthma drug could be a potential game changer for patients with moderate to severe respiratory disease.

The injectable drug, known as dupilumad, slashed asthmatic episodes by 87 percent in a mid-stage trial of 104 patients. The team wrote about the latest trial’s results in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

“Asthma that is difficult to treat is increasingly recognized as comprising different phenotypes,” lead author Sally Wenzel, MD, director of the University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute said. “With this study, we wanted to see whether dupilumab would reduce a surrogate index for asthma exacerbations when given with ICS and LABA and when those two therapies were withdrawn.”

Dupilumad is a fully human monoclonal antibody that thwarts activation of the Th2 immune response implicated in asthma by blocking two cytokines, interleukin-4 and interleukin-13. Researchers performed a 20-week study on patients who had received weekly injections of the drug.

Patients in the study received either dupilumad or a placebo twice a day. During the fourth week, patients were instructed to withdraw LABA, and between weeks six and nine they tapered off ICS. They found that dupilumad provided an 87 percent reduction in protocol defined asthma exacerbations. Moreover, they saw significant improvements for other relevant asthma outcomes like lung functions and morning peak expiatory flow.

“Intriguingly, dupilumab showed substantial efficacy in objective and patient-reported endpoints when added to ICS and LABA and when those therapies were discontinued,” said Dr. Wenzel.

The study found no clear change in blood eosinophils with dupilumad, but other biomarkers decreased, such as fractional exhaled nitric oxide, thymus and activation regulated chemokine.

Wenzel said the study showed a “magnitude and breadth” of efficacy that exceeded other studies of cytokine inhibition in asthma. The team speculates that the stronger outcome came as a result of blocking two cytokines rather than a single one. The researchers want to perform another study to confirm their findings and better define the target population, dosing regimen, and long-term efficiency.

For those who do not have time to wait for this next-generation asthma treatment to come out, researchers from another study suggest trying ginger to help breathe easier. The team presented a new study at the“¯American Thoracic Society´s 2013 International Conference in Philadelphia that claims ginger could help enhance the relaxing effects asthma medications have.

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