New asthma drug makes breathing easier

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Imagine struggling to fill your lungs with air and with each breath, feeling like you’re suffocating. That’s what happens to more than 18-million Americans who suffer from asthma. Medications, shots, inhalers and steroids help most people keep it under control. But for some people that just isn’t enough. Luckily, there’s a new drug that may get them breathing easier again.

No matter what Roxane McWilliams is doing, she always knows where her inhaler is.

McWilliams told Ivanhoe, “I may be outside and someone’s cutting grass and boom! There it is.”

For some, inhalers and steroids don’t work. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found a new drug — Reslizumab to prevent attacks from happening. It goes after the molecule that causes asthma.

Mario Castro, MD, MPH, a pulmonologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis explained, “The antibody is basically a protein in that injection that will bind up all those molecules that are in your blood stream. It doesn’t allow that molecule then to bind to your lung tissue and to your wind pipe so it can’t cause the inflammation.”

An injection once a month was given to hard-to-treat asthma patients. Their inflammation went down and they had a 50 percent reduction in severe asthma attacks.

“It takes some of our severe asthma patients from being really out of control to being well-controlled,” Dr. Castro said.

Compared to steroids, there are few side effects just a risk of infection at the injection site. The downside, steroids work within two hours, the new drug takes two weeks to work. But Roxane says it would be worth the wait.

“That ability to not have to think about it, to not have to worry and to not have that threat of illness happen, would just be so freeing,” she exhausted.

Doctors are hoping this new drug will be available within the next two years. Reslizumab will not work for everyone, but a simple blood test will show who it will help and who it won’t.

To read the research summary, click here.