Asthma Antibody Drug New Hope for 25 Million Americans?

Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals is developing Dupilumab, an antibody drug to give hope to patients whose condition is not controlled by their existing medicines. Is this new drug hope for 25 million Americans suffering from asthma?

Their 12-week study participated by 104 adults with moderate-to-severe asthma revealed that asthma attacks decreased by 87% and other disease control and lung function also improved. Fifty two adults who received Dupilumab had three asthma attacks compared to twenty three attacks from those who received placebo. They are also less likely to use their short-acting inhalers. 

Dupilumab blocks the action of two inflammatory chemicals made by the body, interleukin-4 and interleukin-13, that contribute to asthma. According to Sanofi and Regeneron  Dupilumab could be blocking the pathological pathway contributing to multiple allergic conditions such as atopic dermatitis. However, it takes at least two to three years before the drug reaches the market because much larger studies are required.

How asthma is treated?

About 25 million Americans have asthma, a chronic disease characterized by variable and recurring symptoms that inflame the airways and lungs. It is not controlled in 10 to 20% of the patients using of inhaled glucocorticoid steroids and long-acting beta agonists.

Symptoms usually include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath, leading to decreased lung function, emergency-room visits and hospitalizations.

Asthma is thought to be caused by environmental and genetic factors and treatment is usually by using a short-acting beta-2 agonist inhaler like salbutamol and oral corticosteroids. Symptoms can be prevented by avoiding irritants, allergens. Others use long-acting beta antagonists in addition to corticosteroids if their symptoms are uncontrolled. As of 2011, 235-300  million people were affected worldwide with 250,000 deaths.

Asthma Triggers and Causes

The cause of asthma symptoms varies for different people but what is consistent is when  the airways come in contact with asthma triggers, it will become inflamed, narrow and filled with mucus that increases airway resistance. This will make breathing difficult, and you may have to cough because your body attempts to clean out the accumulation of thick mucus because of the irritation inside.

It is important to understand the environmental, food, and inhaled triggers and reduces exposure to control your asthma attack. Nearly 80% of people with asthma have allergies to airborne substance like weed pollen, grass, tree, dust mites, animal dander, mold, and cockroach particles.

Experimental Asthma drug

A commentary on the asthma study, also published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday, said it was “too early to tell if this therapy is of clinical value,” though it was “probably on the right path.”

Presently, Regeneron is not sure about the best dose of Dupilumab. Meanwhile, Sanofi has started a two-year study with 600 patients on ways of dosing the drug compared with placebo. 

Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas

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