Preliminary results suggest a new option to treat the breathing disease
TUESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental vaccine for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive respiratory disease that afflicts millions of people, may reduce flare-ups in those with severe forms of the illness, new research finds.
Unlike regular childhood vaccinations or the flu shot, this vaccine, which is made from the bacteria that causes meningitis in children, does not prevent COPD but rather tames the severity, duration and frequency of flare-ups.
"It's not an ideal study but it is suggestive that using this novel oral vaccine can reduce the number of serious COPD exacerbations," said Dr. Norman H. Edelman, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association. "That's a very significant finding and could be a very, very useful tool in the management of severe COPD."
Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, added, "they're modest results but certainly favorable and it would seem to be non-toxic."
COPD, which is usually caused by smoking, is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and, said Edelman, is "a major, major problem."
Currently available treatments include flu and pneumonia shots to prevent infection, and oxygen and medications to improve quality of life. It's unclear if any of these interventions actually prolong life, Edelman said.
"There's not a lot new under the sun," Horovitz said.
Flare-ups of COPD seem to be caused by the wrong bacteria or the wrong proportion of bacteria in the airways, which results in inflammation.
"This [new study] is capitalizing on the theory that the inflammation responses due to colonization of bacteria is different in COPD," Horovitz explained."
The vaccine studied in the new trial, HI-164OV, is made from inactivated Haemophilus influenzae
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