The Shot That Treats Asthma

Approximately 150 million people worldwide suffer of severe asthma, and some of them do not respond optimally to the treatment with inhaled corticosteroids. A new asthma cure has been released recently.
It is a biological treatment that will help patients with moderate to severe allergic asthma. The medication by the name of Xolair (omalizumab), which is manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., has been approved in the US. by the FDA, and by October 2004 clinical trials with Xolair for treating peanut allergies were underway. The medication differs from older treatments because it addresses the dysfunctional immune processes, which are at the root of allergic asthma. It is administered as a subcutaneous injection, and it has to be given only every two to four weeks. Health Canada has approved the drug for the treatment of adults and adolescents (12 years of age and older), and it is anticipated that respirologists and allergists will treat patients who have moderate to severe persistent asthma and whose asthma symptoms are inadequately controlled with the inhaled corticosteroids.

Comments: Some of the more severe asthma reactions are mediated by Ig-E antibodies , which in a person with a ragweed allergy, are significantly elevated with respect to specific antibodies against ragweed pollen. In patients with a severe peanut allergy specific antibodies against peanut antigens are found. With exposure to the allergic substance severe asthma reactions (status asthmaticus) can be caused in these patients.



The significance of this new therapy is that the hyperreactive immune response of the patient gets modified and the cascade of inflammatory sustances is being toned down. The results are less airway hyper-reactivity and less likelihood for severe asthma attacks in those patients who need it most. However, as the immune system is significantly altered with this drug, there serious complications have been described such as skin rashes, heart disease, joint and leg pains, respiratory tract infections, and even cancers  in 0.5% of patients.  Discuss with your doctor whether or not this medication would be useful for you.

More info about asthma: http://nethealthbook.com/lung-disease/asthma-introduction/

Reference: The Medical Post, January 18, 2005, page 4

Last edited October 27, 2014


New Asthma Drug Works Slowly But Surely

Patients with severe asthma will have a new treatment option. A new medication under the name omalizumab has been studied in clinical trials by Dr. Jean Bousquet of Arnaud de Villeneuve Hospital in Montpellier, France.

In the study it was also determined which patients would benefit most of the new drug. The results are very encouraging: those patients who had the least success with other asthma medications had the best response. However, it is not an instant response. 67 % of the patients showed a good response after 4 weeks of treatment. 87 % of patients showed a response only after having been on the medication for 12 weeks. As a result of this trial it was determined, that patients with asthma should be treated with omalizumab for at least 12 weeks. FDA approval for difficult to manage cases of allergic asthma came in June of 2003 (trade name Xolair, manufacturer: Genentech, Inc). On the other hand, patience is also of essence: if the medication is only administered for a month, a lot of patients with difficult to treat asthma will miss out on the beneficial effects, as opposed to those who persist and reap significant improvement after 12 weeks. One of the downsides of the medicine is the possibility of anaphylactic reactions.

Reference: National Review of Medicine, May 15, 2004, pg. 27

New Asthma Drug Works Slowly But Surely

New Asthma Drug Works Slowly But Surely

More information about asthma: http://nethealthbook.com/lung-disease/asthma-introduction/

Here is a NEJM article (case study involving omalizumab)

Last edited Oct. 26, 2014