Researcher say recent findings may explain why some patients who use the inhalers actually get worse over time.The ingredient is albuterol, in a class of medications called beta-agonists. In inhalers it is combined with steroids to open airways and ease the gasping of patients with asthma and other lung diseases. Albuterol has two forms or isomers -- a so-called left-handed version and a right-handed one. These isomers refer to the molecular structure.The "right" version relaxed the airways when used with the steroid dexamethasone but the "left" version in fact increased the inflammatory signals that caused the airways to tighten, he said.
Researchers say that long-term repeated usage of albuterol may result in accumulation of the (left) isomer of albuterol, which we know persists in the body three to four times longer than the beneficial (right) isomer, which is normally metabolized in about three hours .
Specialists say it is now possible to make a version of albuterol that contains only the beneficial, right-handed isomer, and they say that drug companies should examine this possibility.