(RxWiki News) Getting to the root of the cause of asthma may help develop more effective treatments. A new drug has targeted one of those possible causes.
Cytokines—small proteins that are excreted from cells that tell other cells what to do—may be important in the allergic reaction experienced by some asthma patients. An antibody targeting a cytokine, called TSLP, was tested in people with asthma.
The recently published research study found that people who were given the antibody had less decrease in their breathing capacity and less allergic reactions than people with asthma who didn’t get the antibody.
"Ask your doctor how to control your asthma."
The lead author on the published research study was Gail M. Gauvreau, PhD, from the Department of Medicine at the Firestone Institute of Respiratory Health at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
The research team recruited 31 men and women with allergic asthma into the study. The participants were non-smokers age 18 to 60 years old.
Half of the patients were given 700 mg of the antibody to TSLP, manufactured by Amgen, and half the patients were given fake drug (placebo). The drugs were given by intravenous injections monthly.
The antibody targeted a cytokine protein believed to be involved in starting the inflammatory response to allergens.
All the study participants were exposed to an allergen by breathing in particles that caused an allergic reaction. The researchers measured the breathing capacity of the patients after breathing the allergen.
Breathing capacity was decreased after exposure to an allergen in both groups, but patients who received the antibody had an over one-third smaller decrease than those who were given placebo.
Allergic responses were measured in the patients by the number of eosinophils in their blood and sputum. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cells that increase in allergic responses.
The number of eosinophils in the blood and sputum of the patients before and after exposure to allergen were significantly lower in the patients who received the antibody, compared to the patients who received placebo.
There were 15 adverse events reported by the patients in the antibody group and 12 in the placebo group, but none of the reactions were serious.
One patient in the antibody group dropped out because their asthma got worse.
The authors remarked that blocking the TSLP protein provided resistance to allergic responses in people with mild allergic asthma.
"While we studied patients with allergic asthma, this research opens the door for the development of new treatments not only for this population, but for those diagnosed with severe asthma as well,” said Paul M. O’Byrne, MB. co-author of the research study.
The research was published online May 20th in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Funding for the research was provided by Amgen, manufacturers of the anti-TSLP antibody.