- Dupilumab was able to relieve
symptoms in moderate to severe asthma.
- It has been approved by
the FDA to treat eczema.
- It was found to alleviate
asthma symptoms better than the standard therapies.
Dupilumab, an FDA approved eczema drug was
surprisingly found to relieve severe asthma attacks, finds a new study. Two new
studies have shown that the eczema drug can, in fact, relieve symptoms in
difficult-to-control asthma cases.
The findings of
this study are published in the The New England Journal of
. Dupilumab was approved only last year to treat eczema
, it is an injectable
‘Not only was Dupilumab able to relieve asthma symptoms, but it was also able to improve lung function in most of the participants taking the drug.’
More than two
thousand patients were involved in this study and all of these patients had a
. All of them were on asthma treatments and used to take
asthma inhalers, and some even took oral steroids to control their severe
In the first
study, asthma exacerbation
rates reduced by a half in patients who were taking Dupilumab compared to those
who were on placebo
. On an average, one exacerbation was observed every day
in the group taking placebos.
as such are nothing but periods of asthma symptoms such as coughing, shortness
of breath, tightness in the chest and wheezing
Another new insight
was found in this particular study, Dupilumab was found to work extremely
well in patients who had high numbers of eosinophils (a type of white blood
cell) circulating in the bloodstream.
Asthma exacerbations were cut in half
in these patients.
an author of this study said: "This drug not only reduced severe symptoms of
asthma, it improved the ability to breathe,". He also added that "That's
important because these patients have a chronic disabling disease that worsens
over time with loss of lung function. So far, we do not have a drug for asthma
the course of the disease. Current drugs for severe asthma help reduce trips to
the emergency room, for example, but they don't improve lung function."
Comparison Between Two Studies
patients were included in the first study. Most of them had moderate to severe
asthma which required them to take at least three different inhalers to control
For the study,
they took three inhalers in which one of them contained corticosteroids, the
second one had a long-acting bronchodilator drug and whereas the third one had
, a short-acting bronchodilator
otherwise called as "rescue" inhaler.
were on these drug filled asthma pumps were assigned dupilumab or a placebo
randomly for over a year. The patients who were on dupilumab were also given
higher or lower dose of the drug randomly. Doctors or the patients also did not
know what they were receiving (I.e the drug or the placebo).
At the very
end, they also found that patients on dupilumab had an improvement in their
After taking the drug patient's lung function improved by
130-200 milliliters according to a "forced expiratory volume" test. No
significant difference was observed in patients receiving a high dose or lower
and Emergency Room (ER) visits also decreased.
benefit was found, while doing a second study. Castro found that this drug
could also be used to wean people off certain chronic oral steroids.
steroids are well known to cause debilitating long-term side effects such as
stunted growth, diabetes, cataracts and osteoporosis.
patients having the same inhaled asthma medications were enrolled in the study.
Half of the people who were subjected to receive dupilumab were able to say no
to the use of prednisone
and even 80% of dupilumab-treated patients were able to cut their dose in half.
were receiving placebo also showed a decrease in prednisone use but to a
The lead author
has explained the possible uses of this drug in asthma treatment. This drug can
help doctors make patients less reliant on steroids for their asthma control.
patients who have had to stop working and go on disability because their asthma
symptoms are so severe they can no longer function in the workplace,"
Castro said. "I'm excited about the potential of dupilumab because I have
so many patients who have maxed out on available therapies and they still can't
breathe. It can become a very disabling disease."
study, a few side effects were also noted such as pain at the injection site, a
small bump in the number of eosinophils. Causalities were also reported during
the study, as five people receiving the drug and 3 people taking placebo died.
None of the deaths were deemed to be related to the study protocol and had
occurred because of patients' previous medical conditions say the investigators
- Mario Castro, M.D., Jonathan Corren, M.D., Ian D. Pavord, M.D., Jorge Maspero, M.D., Sally Wenzel, M.D., Klaus F. Rabe, M.D., William W. Busse, M.D., Linda Ford, M.D., Lawrence Sher, M.D., J. Mark FitzGerald, M.D., Constance Katelaris, M.D., Yuji Tohda, M.D., et al. "Dupilumab Efficacy and Safety in Moderate-to-Severe Uncontrolled Asthma", New England Journal of Medicinel (2018). DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1804092