Bronchial asthma is a disease of the airways wherein the immune response becomes hyper-reactive to certain stimuli such as allergens and changes in weather and humidity. Mild cases of allergic bronchial asthma usually benefit from short acting bronchodilators such as Salbutamol, while moderate to severe cases on the other hand, are typically maintained with a combination of long acting bronchodilators and corticosteroids. In more severe cases, antibodies are used to be able to completely control asthma attacks.
In a biomedical science research recently accomplished in St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University, scientists have shown that antibodies can also be used as part of the therapeutic intervention for mild allergic asthma. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and was presented in the American Thoracic Society conference in San Diego.
The biomedical engineering research team was led by Dr. Gail Gauvreau, associate professor at McMaster University and Dr. Paul O’Byrne, executive director of the Firestone Institute of Respiratory Health (FIRH) at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and chair, Department of Medicine at McMaster University. O’Byrne explained that although it is well established that a certain protein called thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) are being produced by the alveolar linings which in turn causes uncontrolled inflammation, this is the first study to prove that this protein are produced perpetually in patients who are diagnosed with asthma.
Asthmatic patients are treated with either solely bronchodilators or a combination of the former and corticosteroids. Depending on the severity of asthma, these medications may have to be taken regularly to be able to control the disease. O’Byrne pointed out that this study opened the possibility of using other treatment options in controlling not only severe asthma, but also mild allergic asthma as well.
The research in biomedical engineering, participated by 31 patients, was conducted by Clinical Investigator Collaborative. The subjects were gathered from five sites across Canada. They were monitored for 12 weeks. After which, inflammation was observed to be reduced with the administration of the antibodies. Additionally, it was also observed that the patients who were given antibodies were more protected against allergens. Both findings were compared with those of placebo.
Clinical Investigator Collaborative is a multi-centre, Phase II clinical trials group supported by the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (AllerGen). It was established in 2005 and is known for its capability to evaluate the effectiveness of novel molecules and compounds which treats lung inflammation.