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      Targeted therapy in severe asthma today: focus on immunoglobulin E

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          Asthma is a complex chronic inflammatory disease of multifactorial etiology. International guidelines increasingly recognize that a standard “one size fits all” approach is no longer an effective approach to achieve optimal treatment outcomes, and a number of disease phenotypes have been proposed for asthma, which has the potential to guide treatment decisions. Among the many asthma phenotypes, allergic asthma represents the widest and most easily recognized asthma phenotype, present in up to two-thirds of adults with asthma. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) production is the primary and key cause of allergic asthma leading to persistent symptoms, exacerbations and a poor quality of life. Therefore, limiting IgE activity upstream could stop the entire allergic inflammation cascade in IgE-mediated allergic asthma. The anti-IgE treatment omalizumab has an accepted place in the management of severe asthma (Global Initiative for Asthma [GINA] step 5) and represents the first (and, currently, only) targeted therapy with a specific target in severe allergic asthma. This review summarizes current knowledge of the mechanisms and pathogenesis of severe asthma, examines the actual role of IgE in asthma and the biological rationale for targeting IgE in allergic asthma and reviews the data for the efficacy and safety of omalizumab in the treatment of severe asthma. Current knowledge of the role of IgE in asthma, extensive clinical trial data and a decade of use in clinical practice has established omalizumab as a safe and effective targeted therapy for the treatment of patients with severe persistent IgE-mediated allergic asthma.

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          Randomized trial of omalizumab (anti-IgE) for asthma in inner-city children.

          Research has underscored the effects of exposure and sensitization to allergens on the severity of asthma in inner-city children. It has also revealed the limitations of environmental remediation and guidelines-based therapy in achieving greater disease control. We enrolled inner-city children, adolescents, and young adults with persistent asthma in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group trial at multiple centers to assess the effectiveness of omalizumab, as compared with placebo, when added to guidelines-based therapy. The trial was conducted for 60 weeks, and the primary outcome was symptoms of asthma. Among 419 participants who underwent randomization (at which point 73% had moderate or severe disease), omalizumab as compared with placebo significantly reduced the number of days with asthma symptoms, from 1.96 to 1.48 days per 2-week interval, a 24.5% decrease (P<0.001). Similarly, omalizumab significantly reduced the proportion of participants who had one or more exacerbations from 48.8 to 30.3% (P<0.001). Improvements occurred with omalizumab despite reductions in the use of inhaled glucocorticoids and long-acting beta-agonists. When added to a regimen of guidelines-based therapy for inner-city children, adolescents, and young adults, omalizumab further improved asthma control, nearly eliminated seasonal peaks in exacerbations, and reduced the need for other medications to control asthma. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Novartis; ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00377572.).
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            Evidence that severe asthma can be divided pathologically into two inflammatory subtypes with distinct physiologic and clinical characteristics.

            The mechanisms associated with the development of severe, corticosteroid (CS)-dependent asthma are poorly understood, but likely heterogenous. It was hypothesized that severe asthma could be divided pathologically into two inflammatory groups based on the presence or absence of eosinophils, and that the inflammatory subtype would be associated with distinct structural, physiologic, and clinical characteristics. Thirty-four severe, refractory CS-dependent asthmatics were evaluated with endobronchial biopsy, pulmonary function, allergy testing, and clinical history. Milder asthmatic and normal control subjects were also evaluated. Tissue cell types and subbasement membrane (SBM) thickness were evaluated immunohistochemically. Fourteen severe asthmatics [eosinophil (-)] had nearly absent eosinophils (< 2 SD from the normal mean). The remaining 20 severe asthmatics were categorized as eosinophil (+). Eosinophil (+) severe asthmatics had associated increases (p < 0.05) in lymphocytes (CD3+, CD4+, CD8+), mast cells, and macrophages. Neutrophils were increased in severe asthmatics and not different between the groups. The SBM was significantly thicker in eosinophil (+) severe asthmatics than eosinophil (-) severe asthmatics and correlated with eosinophil numbers (r = 0.50). Despite the absence of eosinophils and the thinner SBM, the FEV(1) was marginally lower in eosinophil (-) asthmatics (p = 0.05) with no difference in bronchodilator response. The eosinophil (+) group (with a thicker SBM) had more intubations than the eosinophil (-) group (p = 0.0004). Interestingly, this group also had a decreased FVC/slow vital capacity (SVC). These results suggest that two distinct pathologic, physiologic, and clinical subtypes of severe asthma exist, with implications for further research and treatment.
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              Benefits of omalizumab as add-on therapy in patients with severe persistent asthma who are inadequately controlled despite best available therapy (GINA 2002 step 4 treatment): INNOVATE.

              Patients with severe persistent asthma who are inadequately controlled despite Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) 2002 step 4 therapy are a challenging population with significant unmet medical need. We determined the effect of omalizumab on clinically significant asthma exacerbations (requiring systemic corticosteroids) in the first omalizumab study to exclusively enrol patients from this difficult-to-treat patient population. Following a run-in phase, patients (12-75 years) inadequately controlled despite therapy with high-dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) and long-acting beta(2)-agonists (LABA) with reduced lung function and a recent history of clinically significant exacerbations were randomized to receive omalizumab or placebo for 28 weeks in a double-blind, parallel-group, multicentre study. A total of 419 patients were included in the efficacy analyses. The clinically significant asthma exacerbation rate (primary efficacy variable), adjusted for an observed relevant imbalance in history of clinically significant asthma exacerbations, was 0.68 with omalizumab and 0.91 with placebo (26% reduction) during the 28-week treatment phase (P = 0.042). Without adjustment, a similar magnitude of effect was seen (19% reduction), but this did not reach statistical significance. Omalizumab significantly reduced severe asthma exacerbation rate (0.24 vs 0.48, P = 0.002) and emergency visit rate (0.24 vs 0.43, P = 0.038). Omalizumab significantly improved asthma-related quality of life, morning peak expiratory flow and asthma symptom scores. The incidence of adverse events was similar between treatment groups. In patients with inadequately controlled severe persistent asthma, despite high-dose ICS and LABA therapy, and often additional therapy, omalizumab significantly reduced the rate of clinically significant asthma exacerbations, severe exacerbations and emergency visits. Omalizumab is effective and should be considered as add-on therapy for patients with inadequately controlled severe persistent asthma who have a significant unmet need despite best available therapy.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                29 June 2017
                : 11
                : 1979-1987
                [1 ]Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Section of Respiratory Diseases, University Magna Graecia of Catanzaro, Catanzaro
                [2 ]Personalized Medicine Asthma & Allergy Clinic, Humanitas University, IRCCS Humanitas Research Hospital, Rozzano-Milano
                [3 ]Immunoallergology Unit, AOU Careggi, Florence
                [4 ]Department of Molecular Medicine, “Sapienza” University of Rome, Laboratory affiliated to Istituto Pasteur Italia – Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Rome
                [5 ]Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University of Salerno, Salerno
                [6 ]Cardio Thoracic and Vascular Department, Pathophysiology Unit, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Girolamo Pelaia, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Section of Respiratory Diseases, University “Magna Graecia” of Catanzaro, Campus Universitario “S. Venuta” Viale Europa, Località Germaneto, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy, Tel +39 961 364 7302, Fax +39 961 364 7193, Email pelaia@ 123456unicz.it
                © 2017 Pelaia et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.



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