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‘Landmark’ trial of asthma drug

Updated: Jan 2


Person using inhaler

An antibody drug for treating severe asthma can successfully control the condition in patients without the need for inhaled steroids, a new UK trial has shown.


Inhaled steroids are anti-inflammatory drugs – sometimes taken via an inhaler – that are commonly used for asthma, to reduce the frequency of symptoms and slow lung damage.

However, in high doses, as is often required for asthma, these steroids are linked to side effects, such as oral thrush, and can also increase the risk of conditions like diabetes and osteoporosis (weak bones).


But now a clinical trial, led by King’s College London, and involving EARA member AstraZeneca, found that the antibody therapy benralizumab could reduce the dosage of inhaled steroids in 92% of patients, and stop all steroid use in 60%.


Earlier in the development of bentralizumab, animal tests confirmed that the drug was safe and effective, and successfully reduced the number of inflammation-causing cells in monkeys – often abnormally high in people with asthma. 


Prof David Jackson, at King’s, said: “Biological therapies such as benralizumab have revolutionised severe asthma care in many ways, and the results of this study show for the first time that steroid related harm can be avoided for the majority of patients using this therapy.”

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