The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in Australia has issued a $2.9 million grant for the biggest ever study on asthma to be launched shortly.
Titled The Asthma and Macrolides: Azithromycin Efficacy and Safety (AMAZES) study, the research will be studying the role of macrolide antibiotics in persistent asthma to reach a possible solution to treat inflammations characterised by the disease.
"Current asthma medication is focused on treating a particular cell, called an eosinophil," said Professor Peter Gibson, a Conjoint Professor at the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health respiratory specialist.
He added: "Increased levels of eosinophils are thought to be responsible for inflammation of the airways. However, almost half of people with asthma symptoms have normal levels of eosinophils and respond poorly to current asthma therapies.
"These people suffer from non-eosinophilic asthma, caused by the dysfunction of a primitive arm of the immune system called the innate immune system.
"We have previously used macrolide antiobiotics to successfully treat very severe non-eosinophilic patients, significantly reducing their asthmatic inflammation and improving their quality of life."
The AMAZES study will find out how effective macrolides are in general for people with asthma,
It will not only establish the best way to use the macrolides, but will also ensure that they are safe to use.
The AMAZES study will begin next year at five centres - Newcastle, Perth, Adelaide And two in Brisbane.