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Asthma inhaler targets small airways

Mon March 23rd, 2009

New research suggests that a popular asthma inhaler can effectively improve the function of "small airways".

Small airways play an important role in asthma, say experts, so treatments that go beyond the central airways and reach the small airways may be better for chronic asthma.

The experts tested the inhaled drug Symbicort (budesonide plus formoterol) on 1,076 asthma patients aged 12 years and older. Patients took either Symbicort, budesonide, formoterol, or inactive placebo for 12 weeks.

The researchers found that Symbicort "provided greater improvements in small airway function" than either of its components alone or placebo. It led to better lung function, as measured by forced expiratory flow, they explain.

In another study, patients used Symbicort or budesonide for a year. Those using Symbicort "experienced significantly greater improvements in forced expiratory flow" which were maintained for up to one year.

The results were presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting held in Washington, USA, on Monday (March 16).

Researcher Dr David Pearlman of Colorado Allergy and Asthma Centers, USA, said: "These studies are the first to evaluate and suggest an effect of Symbicort on mid-expiratory flow rates, one potential measure of small airway function.

"Small airways can be subject to inflammation and smooth muscle constriction, which are two main causes of asthma symptoms. Treatments that are able to reduce bronchial constriction and reduce inflammation in this area may be beneficial to patients with asthma."

But he added that: "More studies are needed to further examine the drug's impact."

Zangrilli, J. G. et al. Predose and Postdose Forced Expiratory Flow Between 25 per cent and 75 per cent in Adolescents and Adults With Asthma Treated With Twice-Daily Budesonide/Formoterol Pressurized Metered-Dose Inhaler (BUD/FM pMDI) or BUD pMDI for 1 Year. Presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting held in Washington, USA, on March 16, 2009.

Pearlman, D.S. et al. Predose Forced Expiratory Flow Between 25 per cent and 75 per cent in Inhaled Corticosteroid (ICS) - Dependent Patients With Mild to Moderate or Moderate to Severe Persistent Asthma Receiving Budesonide/Formoterol Pressurized Metered-Dose Inhaler (BUD/FM pMDI). Presented at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting held in Washington, USA, on March 16, 2009.

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | North America | Child Health

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