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Health, Science & Tech

New Drug Explored at Pitt Could Stomp Out Asthma

A new study out of the University of Pittsburgh may have found a way to treat asthma in patients that were not responding well to any other form of treatment.

“This is perhaps the most remarkable efficacy study in asthma in the last 20 years,” said the study’s senior author and University of Pittsburgh Asthma Institute Director, Sally Wenzel.

The study used the injectable drug dupilumab, which blocks part of the immune system. For 12 weeks, 100 patients were randomized to either take the drug or a placebo.

“With that therapy there was really marked improvement in their symptoms, in their lung function,” said Wenzel ,who added many of the patients were able to get off their other medications while getting the shots of dupilumab.

A second larger trial will be launched later this year where the dosages will be lower in an effort to find the proper dose. However, Wenzel said even at the high dose used in the trial there were very few side effects.

“The big hope is that you could actually use this drug in even very small children and maybe even modify the disease itself such that you would enhance the chances that patients would grow out of their asthma,” Wenzel said.

The study was sponsored by the biotech company Regeneron and the pharmaceutical firm Sanofi.