Scientists at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University report that they successfully tested an antibody (AMG 157) that can improve the quality of life for individuals with asthma by relieving inflammation in the lungs.

The study (“Effects of an Anti-TSLP Antibody on Allergen-Induced Asthmatic Responses”) was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the American Thoracic Society conference in San Diego. It concluded that blocking a specific protein in the lungs with an antibody both alleviates baseline inflammation and provides resistance to allergens for those with mild allergic asthma.

“It was known that the epithelial cells, which line the airways in the lungs, produce a protein called thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) that causes inflammation. This study, for the first time, proved that these cells continually produce this protein in humans with asthma,” said Paul O'Byrne, executive director of the Firestone Institute of Respiratory Health at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and chair, department of medicine at McMaster University. “While we studied patients with allergic asthma, this research opens the door for the development of new treatments not only for this population, but for those diagnosed with severe asthma as well.”

Individuals with allergic asthma are typically treated with inhaled corticosteroids or bronchodilators that help to control their asthma when taken regularly. While antibodies are typically reserved for severe asthma, this research can lead to antibody treatment for those who have mild allergic asthma, added O'Byrne, who also noted that this study could lead to quality of life improvements for those with allergic asthma that have issues with inhalers or steroid-based medications.

The research, which was conducted by the Clinical Investigator Collaborative, a multi-center, Phase I clinical trials group supported by the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network, recruited 31 patients over five sites across Canada. After 12 weeks of participant monitoring, the antibodies significantly reduced baseline inflammation and protected the participants against inhaled allergens when compared to a placebo.

“Treatment with AMG 157 reduced allergen-induced bronchoconstriction and indexes of airway inflammation before and after allergen challenge,” wrote the investigators. “These findings are consistent with a key role for TSLP in allergen-induced airway responses and persistent airway inflammation in patients with allergic asthma.”

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