News Friday April 20, 2012

Asthma drug proven effective to avoid complications after a cold

A new treatment for asthma has been found to avoid complications after colds and flu, which cause 80% of asthma attacks and can lead to complications and sometimes even hospitalisation.

Scientists have been trialling the drug known as SNG001 which has been proven effective in decreasing the chances of breathing problems and attacks occurring due to viral infections such as the ‘common cold’, which can spread to the lungs.

One in every five asthma patients suffer from symptoms which are considered difficult to treat due to their severity and the new medication could be one of the biggest breakthroughs in the last 20 years, according to the researchers.

Scientists at the University of Southampton found an innate immune deficiency in asthma patients, which has led to the discovery of the new anti-viral drug that increases defences in the lungs rather than trying to inhibit already evolving viruses, which is what the medications currently on the market do.

The study was backed by Asthma UK, whose assistant research director, Leanne Metcalf said: “Over 80% of asthma attacks are triggered by cold and flu viruses, and until now we haven't had any effective treatments that can stop this from happening. This clinical trial demonstrates the potential of this anti-viral drug to prevent asthma attacks for thousands of people with severe asthma."

Half a million asthma sufferers in the UK could benefit from a treatment such as this one, which has been tested on 134 adults with the respiratory condition and showed a 65% reduction in the number of patients whose symptoms worsened.

"This trial, conducted by several UK academic respiratory experts, provides the first evidence of an effective anti-viral drug that can boost the asthmatic patient's immune system to fight viruses and thus significantly reduce the impact of virus infections on asthma control,” said chief investigator Professor Ratko Djukanovic, from the University of Southampton.

There are currently 5.4 million people in the UK receiving treatment for asthma most often in the form of different types of inhalers. Asthma patients can suffer from severe breathing difficulties which cause over 1,000 deaths in the UK every year.
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