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Early Trials Reveal Effectiveness of Amgen Drug for Treating Asthma

Update Date: May 21, 2014 11:35 AM EDT

According to researchers, an experimental compound was effective in treating allergic asthma attacks. In these early tests, researchers found that the drug, AMG 157, which is from Amgen Inc., was capable of inhibiting the activity of a protein that causes the symptoms of an allergy asthma attack.

"I've never seen anything quite like this," said Paul O'Byrne, the study's lead investigator and chairman of the executive committee of the nonprofit Global Initiative for Asthma reported by the San Francisco Gate. "It's too early to say if it's going be effective in treatment. But if it is, it can be a game-changer.

For this study, the researchers recruited 31 participants who suffered from mild allergic asthma. Three doses of the drug were administered intravenously to 16 participants over the span of 12 weeks. The remaining 15 participants were given a placebo. The researchers found that AMG 157 stopped both the early and the late symptoms caused by asthma. The drug works by signaling the protein, thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP). TSLP was not considered a possible treatment target before this study.

"While these data are very early, they help to confirm our belief that TSLP is a critical early mediator that may be responsible for persisting airway inflammation and triggering the inflammatory response to allergens in allergic asthmatic patients," said O'Byrne, MB reported by the Wall Street Journal. "These results form the basis for further development of this compound."

"We are encouraged by these early results," Cuyler Mayer, Amgen's spokeman, said. "[They] add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that inhibiting TSLP could be beneficial."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2010, over 400,000 people were hospitalized for asthma with more than 3,400 deaths. A 2011 survey found that roughly 40 million Americans, which represent 13 percent of the country's population, suffered from this condition. If the drug continues to be successful in the later trials, it could change treatments for asthma sufferers. The researchers are currently recruiting participants for a Phase II study.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and the findings were presented at the American Thoracic Society 2014 international conference in San Diego, CA.

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