September 18, 2013
Severe Asthma Patients Getting Less Benefit From Medication

Barcelona, Spain—Most patients with severe asthma took regular oral corticosteroids but showed greater airway obstruction than a cohort of people with a milder form of the disease who used less powerful medications, according to recent research.

The study, presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Annual Congress in Barcelona found that “steroid-dependent” asthma patients actually are less likely to respond to their treatment than mild asthma sufferers.

Researchers from the European Union-funded Unbiased Biomarkers for the Prediction of Respiratory Disease Outcomes (U-BIOPRED) project are trying to determine why some patients suffer a more severe form of the disease than others. To help determine that, researchers will collect more than 3 million samples from 300 children and 700 adults with severe and nonsevere asthma, as well as those without asthma.

Key findings of patients with severe asthma include that 55% of adults took regular oral corticosteroids and yet showed greater airway obstruction than the mild/moderate cohort; that patients with severe asthma still experienced exacerbations and dangerous symptoms despite taking high doses of the corticosteroids; that, in children, the level of airway obstruction in severe and mild/moderate asthma was similar; and that the severe asthma group overall had higher fraction exhaled nitric oxide levels.

“We would like to understand why people with more severe asthma are less responsive to the effects of corticosteroids,” said lead presenter Dr. David Gibeon of Imperial College in London. “Our parallel work on the ways in which patients with asthma respond to corticosteroid treatment, which is a commonly-used treatment for asthma, shows that asthmatics may become less responsive to this treatment in many different molecular ways. This initial analysis will provide an overview of the groups which exist within asthma, which will help us develop a more personalized approach to treating the individual patient with asthma.”

Peter Sterk, project lead for U-BIOPRED, pointed out that patients with severe asthma “suffer from repeated exacerbations of symptoms and do not respond as well to treatment, but we don't know why this is the case. In order for us to help improve the lives of these people, we need to make a full biological and clinical ‘fingerprint’ of each patient, by embarking on a huge analysis of data including a wide-range of samples from CT scans, to sputum samples, analysis of a person's genetics and results from bronchoscopies.”

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect