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Southampton scientists begin Phase II patient trial for new asthma treatment
Date:4/8/2010

Scientists from the University of Southampton and Synairgen Research Ltd, a respiratory drug development company spun out from the University, have begun a Phase II study into the effectiveness of the drug interferon beta for asthma patients.

An increase in the frequency of asthma attacks (also known as 'exacerbations') is commonly triggered by cold or flu viruses because the lungs of patients with the condition are unable to mount the strong immune response that normally protects healthy airways.

When the infection spreads from the nose to the lungs it also causes inflammation which leads to such exacerbations.

A successful treatment to prevent virus-triggered asthma exacerbations would reduce the number of asthma patients suffering increased frequency of attacks and subsequently potentially life-threatening deterioration of lung function, thereby greatly reducing emergency admissions to hospital.

Professor Ratko Djukanovic, a clinical respiratory specialist at the University's School of Medicine and Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust and Director of the Southampton Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit, explains: "When common cold or flu viruses spread from the nose and throat to the chest of asthma patients, they can cause a rapid deterioration in their health. Our scientists in Southampton, led by the team of Professor Donna Davies, have found in laboratory-based tests that the lungs are able to protect themselves when the protein interferon beta is introduced.

"If the drug works as we hope it will, it could significantly improve the quality of life for these patients and lessen the number of patients admitted to hospital. However, it is important to stress that there are a number of stages before the drug could be made available to the public.

"We are particularly pleased to have been joined in this clinical trial by other lead asthma centres in the UK which have similar biomedical research
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Contact: Sophie Docker
S.Docker@soton.ac.uk
44-023-805-98933
University of Southampton
Source:Eurekalert

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