New class of drug shows promise for treating asthma and COPD

October 24, 2013

Scientists have developed a new drug (RPL554) that could treat obstructive airway diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in two ways at once, according to new research published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine. RPL554 has the potential to both reverse the narrowing of the airways (bronchodilation) and reduce inflammation quicker and with fewer side effects than current therapies.

"Further longer term studies of RPL554 are now eagerly awaited because this could be one of the most substantial advances for some time in the management of patients with chronic airway obstruction", writes Professor Jadwiga A Wedzicha from University College London, UK, in a linked Comment.

The unique inhaled dual inhibitor—two actions in a single molecule—works by impeding the ability of two enzymes from the phosphodiesterase family (PDE3 and PDE4) to inhibit processes that help relax airway smooth muscle and reduce inflammation.

For the past 40 years, the mainstay of treatment for and COPD (eg, chronic bronchitis and emphysema) has been inhaled anti-inflammatory drugs (corticosteroids) plus bronchodilators (usually long-acting ß2 agonists). But corticosteroids can have substantial , while long-acting ß2 agonists have come under scrutiny for their risk of worsening . What is more, most people with severe disease and frequent flare-ups fail to achieve good control of symptoms and new treatments are needed.

Between February, 2009 and January 3013, four small proof-of-concept clinical trials were done in the Netherlands, Italy, and the UK to assess the safety and efficacy of inhaled RPL554 in healthy participants (39 people) and people with mild-to-moderate asthma (28) and COPD (12).

In COPD patients, a single dose of nebulised RPL554 improved respiratory function, producing a 17% increase in FEV1 (forced expiratory volume at 1 second; which measures the volume of air that can be forcibly exhaled in one second after taking a deep breath)—a bronchodilator response at least as effective as the widely use ß2 agonist Salbutamol.

Additionally, in patients with asthma and COPD, there was rapid bronchodilation with peak effects similar to those produced with inhaled ß2 agonists. Repeat dosing in asthmatics for 6 days showed that the bronchodilator effects were maintained.

Findings also showed that RPL554 can inhibit the bacterial component lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in healthy subjects suggesting that RPL554 also possesses significant anti-inflammatory activity.

Overall, RPL554 was well tolerated and patients in the treatment and placebo groups experienced similar rates of adverse events, which were generally mild. "Although other PDE4 inhibitors can cause gastrointestinal side effects when given orally, none were reported at any dose of RPL554 tested in these trials", explains study leader Professor Clive Page from King's College London, UK.

According to Professor Page, "These studies give us a glimpse into the potential , bronchoprotective, and anti-inflammatory effects of this drug. So far trials have run for 7 days or less and there is a need to look at longer-lasting effects. Further studies are needed to better understand the full potential of this new therapy for COPD and asthma."**

Explore further: Bronchodilators appear associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events

More information: www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (13)70187-5/abstract

Related Stories

Bronchodilators appear associated with increased risk of cardiovascular events

May 20, 2013
A study of older patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) suggests that new use of the long-acting bronchodilators β-agonists and anticholinergics was associated with similar increased risks of cardiovascular ...

Large study of COPD drug finds two types of inhalers equally safe and effective

September 9, 2013
An international study led by a Johns Hopkins pulmonary expert finds that the drug tiotropium (marketed as the Spiriva brand), can be delivered safely and effectively to people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) ...

Visualizing how infection exacerbates lung disease

August 23, 2013
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a leading cause of death worldwide. The disease, characterized by constricted airways due to bronchitis and emphysema, is commonly seen in smokers but can also be brought on ...

Inflammatory on and off switch identified for allergic asthma and COPD

August 1, 2013
Japanese researchers have made a new step toward understanding why—and how to stop—runaway inflammation for both chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) and allergic asthma. In a new report appearing in the August ...

Researchers move closer to identifying new class of asthma, COPD drugs

May 15, 2011
Researchers in Baltimore have identified new compounds whichrelax airway muscles and may provide relief from shortness of breath for patients with COPD and asthma. The bitter-tasting compounds are at least as, if not more, ...

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

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.