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Researchers challenge previous findings regarding widely used asthma treatment

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. A new study published recently in The Lancet reveals that one of the most commonly used asthma medicines -- long-acting beta-agonists -- may not be associated with adverse events in people based on their genotype (gene variation), as previous studies had shown.

The study analyzed the effects of long-acting beta-agonist therapy, used in combination with inhaled corticosteroids, in asthmatics who have a specific beta-2 adrenergic receptor (ADRB2) genotype.

Investigators analyzed data from two clinical trials performed by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP. In each trial, patients were randomized to receive one of two different long-acting beta-agonists. In the case of each of the therapies, asthma symptoms and control improved, but no differences were observed based on the ADRB2 genotype.

These results are extremely important because previous studies on short-acting beta-agonists showed evidence for an adverse genotypic effect, said Eugene R. Bleecker, M.D., Thomas H. Davis Professor of Medicine, co-director of Center for Human Genomics at Wake Forest Baptist, and lead-investigator for the study. Smaller studies on long-acting beta-agonists have produced conflicting results.

Current guidelines recommend the use of combination therapy, with long-acting beta-agonists and inhaled corticosteroids, to control moderate to severe persistent asthma.

With over 2,000 patients in this study receiving combination therapy, it was reassuring that no adverse safety effects could be attributed to an individuals genotype, said Bleecker.

Ten percent of the U.S. population suffers from asthma. Each year, approximately 4,000 people die with asthma as the underlying cause.


Contact: Shannon Koontz
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center

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