Sharp improvements in symptoms associated with asthma were seen during the early testing of a new asthma pill. It has been about 20 years since a new pill for asthma has been created that actually showed considerable positive results. Asthma symptoms were eased due to the treatment called fevipiprant. Researchers reported that the new pill was able to improve lung function, decreased inflammation as well as repaired the lining of the airways.
Asthma is a chronic disease in which individuals suffer from coughing, wheezing, and difficulties in breathing due to the immune system in the airways being overactive. Symptoms can be eased or prevented through the use of steroids or inhalers. However, such methods are known to have devastating side effects.
The new pill, fevipiprant, aims to stop eosinophils (immune cells) from restricting and inflaming the airways by moving into the bronchial walls.
A total of 61 asthmatics were enrolled by researchers in the study published in the British journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. They were then divided into two groups. One group was given a placebo while the other group was given 225 mg of the said drug for 12 weeks, twice a day. The key goal was the monitoring of eosinophil levels found in sputum. Monitoring eosinophils has been used as a biomarker for the chronic breathing disease for years. This is because people who don’t suffer from asthma normally have an eosinophil count of less than 1%. On the other hand moderate-to-severe asthmatics have levels near to 5%.
The fevipiprant drug led asthmatics to experience a drastic decrease in their eosinophil level. In over 12 weeks the drug decreased their count from 5.4% to 1.1%. There were also no negative symptoms to report. The team of researchers went on to say that the group that was given the drug showed easing of asthmatic symptoms.
According to a professor at the University of Leicester in central England, Chris Brightling, “This new drug could be a game-changer for future treatment of asthma.” Brightling also led the current study.
He further went on to say that, “We already know that using treatments to target eosinophilic airway inflammation can substantially reduce asthma attacks. This new treatment, fevipiprant, could likewise help to stop preventable asthma attacks, reduce hospital admissions and improve day-to-day symptoms.”
While the current results are promising more research, on a much bigger scale, is required. Only then can a prototype drug, manufactured by Novartis, can be approved under the 3-phase process to test the effectiveness and safety of a novel drug. According to the manufacturer, fevipiprant is currently in Phase III testing. Novartis hopes to file for a license in 2019.
The need for more testing was further emphasized by the director of research at the charity Asthma UK, Samantha Walker. She shared her comments through Britain’s Science Media Centre. “More research is needed and we’re a long way off seeing a pill for asthma being made available over the pharmacy counter. But it’s an exciting development and one which, in the long term, could offer a real alternative to current treatments.”
According to an investigation by the Global Asthma Report made in 2014, approximately 334 million people suffer from asthma. A total of 14% children around the globe experience symptoms of asthma, more so in poor and middle income countries.
While environmental and lifestyle factors such as house dust mites, tobacco smoke, types of pollen and airborne particulate pollution are linked to asthma, many aspects of the illness are still unclear.
Who knows, maybe the upcoming pill might just prove to be a dependable cure.