Everyone has had a friend at school who was asthmatic. Life is not easy for the chronic asthmatic. It is painful experience watching kids wheezing and groaning under an attack on the playground, looking for their inhalers. A number of therapies, including tablets and inhalers, are available to treat asthma; however, asthma has no real cure to date. Current products are only meant to control asthma attacks. Therefore, patients are hoping for a therapy which will cure asthma permanently. This is where dupilumab comes in.
A few biotech companies aim at novel treatment methods instead of preventive measures. They are currently focusing on genetically developed biologic agents such as monoclonal antibodies (MAb) as possible therapeutic options for moderate to severe asthma. It is believed that monoclonal antibodies will give some hope for patients looking for a curative medicine. With this article I would like to provide an overview on the efficacy and development status of dupilumab, a monoclonal antibody treatment that may be a possible candidate for treating allergic asthma.
Sanofi SA (ADR) (NYSE:SNY) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:REGN) are developing dupilumab to cure moderate to severe allergic asthma. Dupilumab is a Phase II trial candidate. It primarily targets the immune system and interferes with the allergic responses in an asthma patient. Recently, the two companies announced that Phase IIa study of dupilumab provides promising results in significantly reducing asthma attacks.
It was a 12-week trial study where the drug was evaluated against a placebo on patients with moderate and severe persistent asthma and not benefiting from therapies like inhaled glucocorticosteroids (ICS) and long-acting beta agonist (LABA) therapy. The trial was conducted over 104 patients, equally distributed with placebo and injected a dose of 300 milligrams once a week. The study concluded that dupilumab has the capacity to reduce asthma attacks by 87% in patients taking the drug compared to those receiving a placebo.
Let me quickly compare currently available medicines and therapies so we can understand their efficacy and side effects better, especially with respect to dupilumab. They differ with respect to their biomedical mechanism to reduce irritation which triggers asthmatic attacks.
Physicians are still unsure about long-acting beta2 agonist drugs for asthma. These drugs generally relax muscles of the respiratory pathway and cannot be used by themselves due to severe side effects; therefore, the FDA recommended using these products along with steroids.