Severe asthma drug breathes new life into AstraZeneca pipeline
- In a phase IIb study published in The Lancet, patients treated with benralizumab, which is in late-stage development for treatment of severe asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), had 40% to 70% fewer exacerbations. They also experienced improved lung function.
- The frequency of adverse events was similar to placebo.
- For the purposes of the study, severe asthma was defined as patients with elevated blood eosinophil levels, who remain susceptible despite using corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists for at least one year.
What is it about benralizumab that leads to such effective reduction of exacerbations? According to the lead investigator, Maria Castro at the Washington University School of Medicine, it could be related to the unique action mechanism of this class of drugs, which target the IL-5 receptor instead of the ligand.
The net effect of employing this mechanism is the reduction of eosinophils, which is a major contributor to asthma. This approach reflects a more personalized method of developing asthma therapeutics—and is continuing to move the treatment of respiratory illness towards more individualized treatment regimens.
- Pharma Times AstraZeneca's benralizumab succeeds in severe asthma