Southampton scientists begin Phase II patient trial for new asthma treatment

April 8, 2010, University of Southampton

Scientists from the University of Southampton and Synairgen Research Ltd, a respiratory drug development company spun out from the University, have begun a Phase II study into the effectiveness of the drug interferon beta for asthma patients.

An increase in the frequency of asthma attacks (also known as 'exacerbations') is commonly triggered by cold or flu viruses because the lungs of patients with the condition are unable to mount the strong that normally protects healthy airways.

When the infection spreads from the nose to the lungs it also causes inflammation which leads to such exacerbations.

A successful treatment to prevent virus-triggered asthma exacerbations would reduce the number of suffering increased frequency of attacks and subsequently potentially life-threatening deterioration of , thereby greatly reducing emergency admissions to hospital.

Professor Ratko Djukanovic, a clinical respiratory specialist at the University's School of Medicine and Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust and Director of the Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit, explains: "When common cold or flu viruses spread from the nose and throat to the chest of asthma patients, they can cause a rapid deterioration in their health. Our scientists in Southampton, led by the team of Professor Donna Davies, have found in laboratory-based tests that the lungs are able to protect themselves when the protein interferon beta is introduced.

"If the drug works as we hope it will, it could significantly improve the quality of life for these patients and lessen the number of patients admitted to hospital. However, it is important to stress that there are a number of stages before the drug could be made available to the public.

"We are particularly pleased to have been joined in this clinical trial by other lead asthma centres in the UK which have similar biomedical research units funded by the National Institute for Health Research."

Over the next 9 - 15 months, asthma patients taking part in the study who visit the Biomedical Research Unit at Southampton General Hospital will be given either interferon beta or a placebo by inhalation, when they develop cold or flu symptoms.

The results will be used to determine if inhaled is a viable treatment for virus-triggered asthma symptoms.

Scientists have already established that the drug was well tolerated in an earlier Phase I trial in patients and that anti-viral defences were activated.

Richard Marsden, CEO of Synairgen, comments: "We are delighted to be starting this pivotal study. If these tests are successful it could lead to a new treatment being on the market in four years or so. This is very important research and showcases the best of British clinical science and interaction between industry and academic researchers."

Once the study has begun in Southampton, it will be extended to other clinical trial sites around the UK.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Ambitious global virome project could mark end of pandemic era

February 23, 2018
Rather than wait for viruses like Ebola, SARS and Zika to become outbreaks that force the world to react, a new global initiative seeks to proactively identify, prepare for and stop viral threats before they become pandemics.

Forecasting antibiotic resistance with a 'weather map' of local data

February 23, 2018
The resistance that infectious microbes have to antibiotics makes it difficult for physicians to confidently select the right drug to treat an infection. And that resistance is dynamic: It changes from year to year and varies ...

Study reveals how kidney disease happens

February 22, 2018
Monash researchers have solved a mystery, revealing how certain immune cells work together to instigate autoimmune kidney disease.

Scientists gain new insight on how antibodies interact with widespread respiratory virus

February 22, 2018
Scientists have found and characterized the activity of four antibodies produced by the human immune system that target an important protein found in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to new research published ...

Past encounters with the flu shape vaccine response

February 20, 2018
New research on why the influenza vaccine was only modestly effective in recent years shows that immune history with the flu influences a person's response to the vaccine.

Building better tiny kidneys to test drugs and help people avoid dialysis

February 16, 2018
A free online kidney atlas built by USC researchers empowers stem cell scientists everywhere to generate more human-like tiny kidneys for testing new drugs and creating renal replacement therapies.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.