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Treat the Cause, Kill the Symptom

New approach to asthma treatment

FRIDAY, Nov. 29, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Targeting microscopic cells that cause inflammation in lung airways may be a more effective way of reducing severe asthma attacks than treating asthma symptoms, says a British study in tomorrow's issue of The Lancet journal.

Increased concentrations of microscopic cells called eosinophils cause inflammation in lung airways that results in asthma symptoms. These eosinophils are also present in a person's sputum several weeks before an asthma attack.

The researchers compared the effectiveness of reduction of eosinophilic inflammation to conventional asthma treatment, which relies on assessments of symptoms and simple measures of lung function.

The study included 74 people with moderate to severe asthma. They were selected at random to receive conventional treatment or normalization of the induced sputum eosinophil count.

The sputum eosinophil group received inhaled or oral corticosteriods in response to changes in their sputum eosinophil concentrations.

Over 12 months, the sputum eosinophil count was 63 per cent lower in people in the sputum management group than the people in the conventional asthma treatment group. The sputum management group had fewer severe asthma attacks (35) compared to the conventional treatment group (105).

The sputum management group had one person hospitalized for severe asthma, compared to six people in the conventional management group.

More Information

For more about asthma, go to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Nov. 28, 2002
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