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Severe asthma tackled by antibodies

5th March 2009

Research has shown that patients with a type of severe asthma are able to benefit from injections of an antibody.

Asthma1

A team from the UK and researchers from Canada found the treatment mepolizumab helped those patients with asthma which is made worse by a condition called eosinophilia and which affects 500,000 people in the UK.

The findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the drug reduced the frequency of severe attacks and meant that patients were able to cut back on the use of steroids.

The studies focussed on patients who had been taking the steroid prednisone - which is linked to side effects such as weight gain and bone loss - for an average of nine years to control their condition.

Those who were given mepolizumab were able to reduce their use of prednisone significantly without their asthma getting any worse.

The UK study led by Professor Ian Pavord at the Institute for Lung Health focussed on 61 patients while the Canadian study looked at 20 patients.

Professor Pavord, who is also chief medical advisor to the charity Asthma UK, said the results suggested mepolizumab could cut severe asthma attacks by up to 50%, as well as enabling patients to reduce their use of steroids.

He added: "The last decade has seen a limited number of alternative treatment approaches become available for asthma, so the possible benefits that mepolizumab could bring to the half a million people with severe asthma in the UK are incredibly exciting."

 

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