New Treatment for Severe Asthma

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Tezepelumab is a new asthma treatment that has been granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the FDA. This designation helps to expedite the development and regulatory review of medications that potentially treat serious conditions. About 10% of patients with asthma may have severe asthma which can adversely affect their quality of life and is often debilitating or even fatal.  While there are several treatments available for asthma already, patients who suffer from severe asthma are often reliant on medications like oral steroids (e.g. prednisone) which can have severe side effects when taken long term.

Tezepelumab is a monoclonal antibody and it works by blocking thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), which is a cytokine that is produced in response to environmental or inflammatory stimuli. TSLP is present in higher concentrations in the airway tissues of patients with asthma, and higher levels are correlated with greater disease severity. TSLP is a component of several inflammatory pathways and blockade of these pathways can prevent asthma exacerbations and reduce the severity of asthma symptoms. Clinical trials have shown a reduction of about 60-70% in the number of asthma exacerbations with different doses of tezepelumab. Dosing will likely be every 2-4 weeks, and like other monoclonal antibodies, tezepelumab is given by injection. Common side effects include headaches and nasopharyngitis.

Other monoclonal antibodies used for asthma (e.g. Xolair, Dupixent) work by targeting different biochemical pathways. So for patients who have not achieved good control of their asthma with currently available medications, this will provide another potential option if it is approved.

For more information:

https://www.specialtypharmacytimes.com/news/fda-grants-breakthrough-therapy-designation-to-tezepelumab-for-severe-asthma

https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa1704064

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