What’s the Future of Asthma Treatment?
Asthma is a chronic health condition that impacts the airways. The airways carry oxygen to the lungs, absorbed across cell membranes. Asthma causes limited airflow into and out of the lungs because muscles around the airway tighten or go into spasms. It causes wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and an increased heart rate. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and often occur early in children with Asthma. Here is what is the future of asthma treatment.
The most important thing you can do to manage your asthma symptoms is to stay on top of them and identify triggers. Self-management tools can help you assess your symptoms and develop a treatment plan that works for you. The more often you monitor your symptoms, the more in tune with them you will become. You will also be able to identify patterns unique to your Asthma. It will empower you to make changes that impact your symptoms and overall quality of life.
Many new biologic agents are coming to market soon. The design of the treatments is to target the underlying immunological pathways that underlie your Asthma. It is great news! There is currently a lack of targeted treatment options available for adults with persistent Asthma, and these new medications could be just what the doctor ordered.
Asthma is a chronic condition that can worsen over time and continue to be an issue in adulthood. New vaccines are currently in development to prevent Asthma in people at risk of developing the disease. The design of the new vaccines is to prevent Asthma by acting directly on the immune cells involved in airway inflammation. If a vaccine is successful in trials, these new treatments could be available within the next couple of years.
Several new oral medications are in the pipeline, including a pill that the FDA recently gave the green light. It will be the first step in oral control of asthma symptoms if approved.
For those patients with severe Asthma that respond poorly to other treatments, immunotherapy is an option. Immunotherapy uses small amounts of allergens. Using immunotherapy is to “desensitize” the body to allergens and decrease the sensitivity over time. If a patient has an allergic sensitivity to something, there is help by this treatment. In the future, allergy testing may allow the health care provider to recommend immunotherapy treatments.
Airway Lining Pills
There is another pill currently on the market for adults with persistent Asthma and could be offering new hope for adult patients. The drug, Albuterol (generic form of Atrovent) was recently FDA approved and can prevent asthma attacks in those who use it when needed. This drug is different than other asthma medications because it directly affects the inflammation in the airway. If approved by the FDA and health care providers, this would be a perfect option to consider for patients in severe distress.
Development of Novel Strategies for Steroid Sparing in Asthma
Except for the most severe cases, steroids are used to treat Asthma. Steroids reduce inflammation but also have many undesirable side effects. Because of this, it is important to have an alternative treatment for Asthma that can control inflammation without the need for steroids. One strategy people use is the aerosolized phospholipase A2 enzyme. There is proving of the enzymes to reduce inflammation in animal models and reduce symptoms of Asthma.
Understanding The Underlying Causes of Asthma
If an allergic response causes the symptoms of Asthma, then immunotherapy is an effective treatment for Asthma. Immunotherapy treats the underlying cause of the disease by identifying, treating, and preventing allergen exposure in a patient and may cure them of Asthma.
Development of an Alternative to Corticosteroids
When corticosteroids people use for Asthma, side effects can be serious. One way to reduce the risk of those side effects is to develop an alternative treatment for Asthma that does not require substantial amounts of steroids. Many researchers are exploring the use of anti-inflammatory drugs that may allow a reduction in dosage without impacting health or function.
Using Noninvasive Ventilation as A Asthma Treatment
Noninvasive ventilation is an alternative treatment for Asthma that is gaining popularity. This approach uses positive pressure to move air around the lungs with minimal stress on the airways, helping to improve airflow instantly. People could use it for children and adults with Asthma who cannot tolerate the stress of conventional treatments and is more effective than steroids.
Using Allergens to Treat Asthma
Certain allergens can cause Asthma not caused by an immune response. These symptoms are caused by releasing inflammatory cytokines following exposure to specific allergens. For example, there is showing that patients with allergic rhinitis and hay fever will eventually develop Asthma when exposed to pollen. The body’s response to these environmental triggers could be treated using immunotherapy and steroids or avoided altogether with regular avoidance of triggers.
Using Stem Cells to Treat Asthma
Stem cells can differentiate into various cell types, so people could use them in areas where repair of damaged tissue is needed. One area where stem cells could be useful as a treatment for Asthma is the airway lining. There has been researching on stem cell-derived proteins that could help make new epithelial cells to repair damaged tissues in the lungs, including issues with the airway wall.
Growing New Airway Tissue
New airways developed with stem cells and endothelial progenitor cells may replace damaged structures in the lungs, improving the function of the airways. Early trials with this approach have shown promising results.
Stopping Asthma Attacks and Shortening Intervals Between Attacks
A recent study has shown that an anti-inflammatory drug given before an asthma attack can shorten how long a person is symptomatic after an attack. Giving this medication in the future could reduce the severity of symptoms and how long they last.
Avoiding Allergen Exposure
The best way to prevent Asthma is to avoid triggers, but this is often not possible. However, developing strategies for avoiding triggers could help patients have fewer attacks and be more comfortable. There are several strategies for avoiding triggers, including using air cleaners, wearing masks on high-pollen days, and staying inside during peak pollen times.
New Receptor-Based Treatments
Current treatments for Asthma generally reduce inflammation in the lungs. New treatments could target inflammation directly, reducing the amount of inflammation and improving symptoms. Recent studies have also shown that blocking specific receptors may be effective in restricting cell signaling, which could lead to improved outcomes for asthma patients.
Using Virtual Reality to Treat Asthma
Most therapies for Asthma follow a specific progression, with some therapies done in a doctor’s office and others did at home. Virtual reality is becoming increasingly advanced and could treat asthma patients. This approach could allow patients to practice techniques outside of the office without exacerbating asthma symptoms, making techniques easier to learn at home.
Using Air Purifiers
Air purifiers have been shown to have some benefit in reducing inflammation in the lungs and improving symptoms of Asthma. Studies have shown that washing the air with purified air from a water purifier may reduce inflammation and improve symptoms of Asthma.
New Treatment Modalities for Allergies
Some allergy sufferers have developed allergies to pollen or dust mites due to their asthma symptoms. Treatments for allergies could be beneficial in some cases, especially in preventing an allergist response that could trigger a new asthma attack.
Using Lasers to Treat Asthma
Laser therapy has been explored as a treatment for Asthma in children, based on the idea that lasers can help break up mucus, allowing it to move through the airways and eventually be in cough out. It has shown some benefit in that it helped reduce the number of attacks and improve symptoms in the short term but did not seem to be effective in the long term.
Treating Asthma with Antihistamines
Antihistamines can sometimes provide relief to people with Asthma by blocking some of the effects of histamine. Several histamine receptors there is an identification, and the development of drugs that target more than one receptor may be useful as a treatment for Asthma.
There are many potential treatments for Asthma, but not all of them prove to be effective in clinical trials. Many of these therapies are still in the research stage and require further study before people could use them as a treatment for patients.
Patients must understand what treatment options are available for their Asthma and work with their doctor to develop the best possible treatment plan for managing the condition.