A new type of injectable biotechnological therapy for severe asthma from well-known drug manufacturers, according to the creators, is able to help a much wider range of patients than existing drugs.
The results, collected in the middle of a clinical study involving five hundred and eighty-four patients, showed that the experimental drug reduced the annual rate of severe asthmatic attacks and flare-ups by 61-64%, depending on the dose.
These results put the first-in-class injection in a competitive position. A third phase of testing is scheduled for late this year or early next.
Researchers must validate the safety of the drug in larger trials, as there is a theoretical risk of infection when the drug is exposed to the immune system.
Injections to treat severe asthma have opened up a multi-billion dollar market as rival firms have sought to develop antibody-based drugs for more than 15% of patients who are poorly helped by even the latest inhalers. Despite advances in treatment in recent decades, their asthma remains poorly controlled by standard therapy, which consists of inhaled steroids and drugs to open the airways.
The new drugs are helping people with certain types of severe asthma by targeting specific inflammatory chemicals produced in the body that cause illness, making them suitable for certain patient populations.
The drug under development differs in that it acts downstream in the inflammatory cascade responsible for asthma by blocking the action of the TSLP signaling protein. This means that it can help a wider range of patients.
Sales of biotech drugs for severe asthma are already at $ 2 billion (£ 1.5 billion) a year, and experts believe there is significant room for growth as only about 10% of patients currently receive them.