An antibody that can improve the quality of life for individuals with asthma by relieving inflammation in the lungs has been discovered by scientists. The research was led by Dr. Gail Gauvreau, associate professor at McMaster University and Dr. Paul O'Byrne, executive director of the Firestone Institute of Respiratory Health (FIRH) at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and chair, Department of Medicine at McMaster University.
The study was presented at the American Thoracic Society conference in San Diego. It concluded that blocking a specific protein in the lungs with an antibody both alleviates baseline inflammation and provides resistance to allergens for those with mild allergic asthma.
"It was known that the epithelial cells which line the airways in the lungs produce a protein called thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) that causes inflammation. This study, for the first time, proved that these cells continually produce this protein in humans with asthma," O'Byrne said.
"While we studied patients with allergic asthma, this research opens the door for the development of new treatments not only for this population, but for those diagnosed with severe asthma as well," he said.
Individuals with allergic asthma are typically treated with inhaled corticosteroids or bronchodilators that help to control their asthma when taken regularly.
While antibodies are typically reserved for severe asthma, this research can lead to antibody treatment for those who have mild allergic asthma.
The study - conducted by the Clinical Investigator Collaborative, a multi-centre, Phase II clinical trials group supported by the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (AllerGen) - recruited 31 patients over five sites across Canada.
After 12 weeks of participant monitoring, the antibodies significantly reduced baseline inflammation and protected the participants against inhaled allergens when compared to a placebo.
The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.