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Antifungal Drug May Help Ease Asthma

People sensitive to fungi may benefit from itraconazole, study finds

MONDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDay News) -- An antifungal drug may offer hope for severe asthma patients who also suffer from a sensitivity to certain fungi, a new British study says.

A twice-daily dose of itraconazole improved runny nose, morning lung function and the quality of life of 62 percent of people with severe asthma and allergic sensitivity to at least one of seven different common fungi in the double-blind study conducted by The University of Manchester.

However, the remaining patients who took the drug dropped out of the 32-week trial before its completion. Some cited side effects such as nausea, breathlessness and muscle weakness.

The findings appear in the first January issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

"This study indicates that fungal allergy is important in some patients with severe asthma, and that oral antifungal therapy is worth trying in difficult-to-treat patients. Clearly itraconazole will not suit everyone and is not always helpful, but when it is the effect is dramatic," lead investigator David Denning, a professor of medicine and medical mycology at The University of Manchester, said in a news release issued by the journal's publisher. "These findings open the door to a new means of helping patients with severe asthma, and raise intriguing questions related to fungal allergy and asthma."

More information

The National Library of Medicine has more about asthma.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, Dec. 29, 2008

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