1155 GMT March 29, 2020
Jabs of antibody treatment benralizumab prevented severe flare-ups of asthma which could no longer be controlled with high-dose steroid inhalers and other drugs, express.co.uk reported.
The condition claims 1,000 lives a year in the UK. The new drug targets and clears away rogue immune cells in the lungs that play a key role in allergies and asthma.
Two trials named Calima and Sirocco compared the effects of benralizumab and a dummy placebo treatment in more than 2,500 patients.
Both found that the drug significantly reduced rates of 'exacerbations' — episodes of progressively-worsening shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness.
In the Calima trial, these crises were cut by 28 to 36 percent and the Sirocco trial saw a 45 to 51percent reduction.
Prof. Eugene Bleecker, from the Wake Forest School of Medicine, in Winston-Salem, US, who led the Sirocco trial, said that patients with severe, uncontrolled asthma had very few treatment options once they are taking high-dose inhaled steroids and long-acting beta agonists — drugs that relax the muscles of airways and widen them.
He said that his is study showed that indications from blood tests of an asthma problem were nearly completely depleted by the fourth week of treatment with the new drug."
The leader of the Calima trial, Mark FitzGerald from the University of British Columbia, Canada, said: “The results from both trials indicate that benralizumab treatment once every four or eight weeks decreased harmful counts, reduced asthma crises and improved lung function for patients with severe, uncontrolled asthma.”
The findings were published in The Lancet medical journal and were presented at the European Respiratory Society’s annual meeting in London.
A separate study by the University of Edinburgh last week estimated that asthma costs the UK health services at least €1.1 billion every year, of which €666 million is spent on prescriptions.
The study revealed that three people die every day from attacks.
There are around 6.4 million UK appointments with GPs and nurses for asthma every year, scientists claimed, with more than 270 people admitted to hospital each day.
Aziz Sheikh, director of the Asthma UK Center for Applied Research at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Even with conservative assumptions we find almost 100,000 people are admitted to hospital and there are at least 1,000 deaths from asthma each year.
“This is unacceptable for a condition that, for most people, can be managed with the right support from their GP.
“Greater focus on primary care is needed if we are to cut rates of severe asthma attacks, admissions to hospital and deaths.”
The study was published in the BMC Medicine journal and was funded by Asthma UK.