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Scientists Are One Step Closer To Developing An Asthma Vaccine

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Scientists Are One Step Closer To Developing An Asthma Vaccine

We're one step closer to getting a jab for asthma, scientists have confirmed.

The vaccine, due to be trialled by NEOVACS, could spell the end of the worst symptoms of asthma, and offer hope of a cure.

Scientists tested the vaccine on mice with a human form of the chronic lung condition, and the therapy lasted for around three months.

They now believe the vaccine opens the door to a "long term approach" for treating patients.

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And it's not long away, as clinical trials are expected to start within two years.

The vaccine is still yet to go to human clinical trials (Credit: Shutterstock)
The vaccine is still yet to go to human clinical trials (Credit: Shutterstock)

Corresponding author Dr Laurent Reber, of the National Institute for Health and Medical Research, Paris, said the strategy is "cost effective."

He said: "It will be delivered as an intramuscular injection - similar to most vaccines.

"Our pre-clinical data are very promising as they show the vaccine can promote long-term protection against major asthma features."

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Currently, sufferers have to carry inhalers or pills to help open up their airways.

Struggling for breath is a fact of life for almost 5.5 million Britons with asthma - including more than one million children.

Dr Reber said: "Asthma is the most common chronic lung disease, affecting around 300 million people worldwide. At least 250,000 deaths are attributed to the disease each year.

"An estimated 20 per cent of patients suffer from uncontrolled, moderate-to-severe asthma, presenting with persistent symptoms, with reduced lung functions and recurrent exacerbations, despite the use of high-dose pharmacological therapy."

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Asthma is a condition taking over the lives of many (Credit: Shutterstock)
Asthma is a condition taking over the lives of many (Credit: Shutterstock)

The French team developed two compounds that block inflammation fuelling proteins known as IL-4 and IL-13 (interleukin 4 and 13).

They are molecules that direct infection-fighting cells. But excessive production is dangerous - and can even be fatal.

Injections of the cocktail protected the lab rodents. Levels of an asthma linked antibody called IgE were reduced - along with mucus production.

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And the benefits were long lasting - with up to 15 weeks of suppression without producing any side effects, said Dr Reber.

What's more, it dampened the human version of IL-4 and IL-13 in genetically engineered mice for at least eleven weeks.

Antibodies that target IgE, IL-4 and IL-13 can reduce symptoms but are costly and require frequent and lifelong re-infusion.

The vaccine could offer a cure (Credit: Shutterstock)
The vaccine could offer a cure (Credit: Shutterstock)
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Dr Reber said: "Our results imply dual IL-4/IL-13 vaccination may represent a cost-effective, long-term therapeutic strategy for the treatment of allergic asthma as demonstrated in mouse models.

"It was well tolerated and protected against key features of chronic asthma.

"Altogether, our results indicate long-term neutralisation of both mouse and human IL-4 and IL-13 can be achieved through vaccination."

Asthma is caused by an inappropriate response of the immune system. When sufferers are exposed to irritants or allergens, it launches what are called 'Th2' attacks to fight the invaders.

Cytokines are the 'messengers' that coordinate them. In asthma patients it causes inflammation and excess mucous production making it difficult, and sometimes impossible, to breathe.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, also open the door to revolutionising the treatment of a host of other diseases.

Dr Reber said: "These results pave the way for the clinical development of an efficient long-term vaccine against asthma and other IL-4- and IL-13 mediated allergic diseases."

They range from food allergies and eczema to chronic urticaria or hives - a raised itchy rash caused by reactions to pollen, insect bites and chemicals.

The researchers are already designing a first clinical trial with French drugs company NEOVACS to test the vaccine in asthma patients.

Dr Reber added: "It should start within two years."

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Life News, health news, Health

Joanna Freedman
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