Treating asthma differently
About a quarter of a billion people around the world are affected by asthma, when the lungs’ airways constrict, making breathing difficult. For decades we’ve treated the condition with drugs that relax the muscles in the airways and damp down the immune response that makes the airways tighten in the first place. But, recently, researchers have discovered that asthmatic airways also contain bulkier muscles than they should do. This is caused, they think, by the same inflammatory signals that trigger the airways to constrict. And now they’ve gone on to show that an experimental drug, called “fevipiprant”, that blocks these signals, can prevent - and even reverse - the muscle changes, potentially ushering in a new way to manage asthma. Chris Smith spoke with Chris Brightling from the University of Leicester to find out how the new drug could be used to treat asthma.