Infliximab Cuts Asthma Attacks in Small Study

TNF-α inhibitor was well tolerated and improved lung function compared with placebo

MONDAY, Oct. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with moderate asthma who received infliximab, a monoclonal antibody that neutralizes the inflammatory cytokine TNF-α, had fewer disease exacerbations than those taking placebo, according to a report in the Oct. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

In a small, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Trevor T. Hansel, M.D., Ph.D., of the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College, London, U.K., and colleagues randomized 38 patients with recent disease activity to intravenous infusions of infliximab at zero, two and six weeks, and measured lung function, symptoms and inhaler use for up to 56 days.

While there were no differences in the primary endpoint of peak expiratory flow (PEF) between the two groups, patients receiving infliximab had decreased diurnal variation of PEF at Week 8. Only four of the 14 patients (29 percent) receiving infliximab experienced exacerbations, compared with 13 of 18 patients (72 percent) in the placebo group. No adverse side effects were noted.

"Given that infliximab therapy was well tolerated and appeared to reduce the incidence of asthma exacerbations, anti-TNF-α therapy merits further study in larger clinical trials in patients with severe asthma," the authors write.

One author is an employee of Centocor, the manufacturer of infliximab. Other authors have received compensation or funding from various pharmaceutical companies.

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