Researchers testing an experimental compound found it to be effective in treating allergic asthma attacks.
The initial tests showed that the drug, AMG 157, which is from Amgen Inc., was capable of slowing down the activity of a protein that causes the symptoms of an allergy asthma attack.
"I've never seen anything quite like this," said Paul O'Byrne, the study's lead investigator and chairman of the executive committee of the nonprofit Global Initiative for Asthma. "It's too early to say if it's going be effective in treatment. But if it is, it can be a game-changer.
For the study, researchers recruited 31 participants with mild allergic asthma. They administered three doses of the drug intravenously to 16 participants for 12 weeks. Rest 15 participants were given a placebo. The researchers found that AMG 157 stopped both the early and the late symptoms caused by asthma. The drug works by signaling the protein, thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP). TSLP was not considered a possible treatment target before this study.
"While these data are very early, they help to confirm our belief that TSLP is a critical early mediator that may be responsible for persisting airway inflammation and triggering the inflammatory response to allergens in allergic asthmatic patients," said O'Byrne, MB reported by the Wall Street Journal. "These results form the basis for further development of this compound."
"We are encouraged by these early results," Cuyler Mayer, Amgen's spokeman, said. "[They] add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that inhibiting TSLP could be beneficial."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010, more than 400,000 people were hospitalized for asthma and over 3,400 deaths were reported due to the condition.
Researchers said that if the drug showed successful results in later trials, it could change treatments for asthma sufferers. The researchers are currently recruiting participants for a Phase II study.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the findings were presented at the American Thoracic Society 2014 international conference in San Diego, CA.