Novel therapy could revolutionise treatment for asthma, COPD, among others

pharmafile | March 24, 2022 | News story | Business Services  

A multicenter research team in Texas has developed the first drug to treat the uncontrolled secretion of mucins in the airways, which causes potentially life-threatening symptoms in millions of Americans with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis (CF), as well as lung disease resulting from cancer and cancer treatment.

Muco-obstructive lung diseases affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide. In the US, roughly 25 million people have asthma, 16 million adults have been diagnosed with COPD, and CF is the most common life-threatening genetic disease. There are many cancer patients who end up with lung disease, as their cancer treatments or the cancer itself leaves them immunocompromised.

Mucins are gradually released into the airways, where they absorb water and form a thin layer of protective mucus that traps pathogens, and is easily cleared by cilia. In muco-obstructive lung diseases, high volumes of mucins are suddenly released and since they are unable to absorb enough water, this results in a thick mucus that can plug airways and impair lung function.

“Mucus is a significant problem in pulmonary medicine, because in people with these common lung diseases, thick mucus can block the airways and cause symptoms ranging from a mild cough to very serious decreases in lung function,” said Burton Dickey, MD, professor of Pulmonary Medicine and co-corresponding author of the study.

“Most drugs for these conditions work to reduce inflammation or expand the airways to help people breathe better, but mucus is the most serious issue. Our research has created the first drug that would stop the secretion of mucins in its tracks.” 

The study is published in Nature.

Lina Adams

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