asthma.jpgGroundbreaking research at Leicester’s Hospitals has identified a promising new treatment for patients suffering with severe asthma.

A team of medics led by Professor Ian Pavord from Glenfield Hospital have spent 10 years researching the best way to treat patients with severe asthma.  They identified a subgroup of patients who might respond to a new antibody therapy called Mepolizumab. More than 600 patients from 13 countries were involved in the DREAM Trial - a controlled drug trial which compared the effect of Mepolizumab and placebo on the number of asthma attacks experienced by patients over a year.

Researchers found that there were 50 per cent fewer asthma attacks when patients were treated with a monthly injection of Mepolizumab.  The drug works best in patients who have frequent asthma attacks.  Importantly, patients who were given this innovative treatment did not report any adverse effects.

Professor Ian Pavord, the chief investigator of the DREAM study and University of Leicester academic, said:  “This is an important finding which raises considerable hope for the 5 -10 per cent of patients with asthma who have severe disease not responding to currently available treatments.

 “This is likely to be the first new drug treatment option for patients with severe asthma for at least 15 year.” 

Research trial patient Colin Hurst, 52, from Longridge in Lancashire, has been travelling down to Leicester to take part in the study.  He said:  “I cannot praise Glenfield and the research enough. Apart from my appreciation of their professional and thorough approach, the understanding of my own condition has been priceless.

“Taking part in the study, and being fortunate enough to receive the active drug, has been more than beneficial, to say the least. Dependent at times on large doses of steroids to create a sense of normality, I have found the mepo drug to be a much better and consistent solution.

“Having been on a Mepo trial several years earlier, I was able to recognise that during the DREAM study, I received a smaller dose without being any less effective. The residual effect after this study was not as long as with the original trial. Within twelve months a sustained level of steroids was required to enable me to remain active and pursue a competitive level of cricket. My quality of life has been drastically improved as a result of the trial. There are people who suffer more severely than me and for them this research will be life-changing."

Medics now plan to carry out more research into the drug treatment before it becomes available for use in clinics nation-wide.  During this time Mepolizumab is being developed as a new asthma treatment by GSK, the worlds leading pharmaceutical company in the field.

An article detailing this pioneering research project will be published in the Lancet on 18th August. 

Source: University of  Leicester

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