Today’s research pipeline holds more than 200 anti-asthma agents. Among them are new agents with potential to treat asthma in novel ways and existing drugs that may have new uses in asthma therapy.
Promising agents in Phase II and III clinical trials
include LABA-plus-ICS combination drugs. One, called Relovair, is progressing in Phase III studies. Another is a compound called MABA (muscarinic antagonist-beta 2 agonist). Researchers hope this new agent will combine the action of a LABA drug and a muscarinic antagonist drug (LAMA) in one therapy.
Comparative studies have shown leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) to be as effective as steroids in controlling asthma symptoms. LTRA drugs, such as Singulair and Accolate, work by blocking leukotrienes, which cause inflammation and restrict bronchial passages. A number of LTRA drugs are in clinical development.
Resiquimod, a skin cancer drug, prevents the development of asthma in animal studies. Early clinical studies are underway to learn if it might treat asthma. Theophylline, a drug related to caffeine, was once used to treat asthma but was replaced by safer therapies. Now researchers are studying variations of theophylline that might have fewer side effects.
Advances in the understanding and treatment of asthma are expected to come from the development of better ways to diagnose asthma and measure how drugs affect the body’s responses in asthma. They are searching for biomarkers that can be used for more objective measurements in diagnosis and research. Research is also aimed at increasing knowledge of airway diseases as a whole in order to gain deeper understanding of disease processes.
CenterWatch: New Medical Therapies Trial Results in Asthma; and FDA Approved Drug Therapies in Pulmonary/Respiratory Diseases
Cowen Therapeutic Categories Outlook 2012