A newly released study has important clinical implications for the prevention and reduction of autumn asthma exacerbations in children.
The study, “Preseasonal treatment with either omalizumab or an inhaled corticosteroid boost to prevent fall asthma exacerbations,” was published in the latest edition of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
The study was designed by senior researcher Dr. Stanley Szefler, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine, director of the Pediatric Asthma Research Program, and research medical director of the Breathing Institute at the Pediatric Pulmonary Section at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Szefler’s research focuses on long-term control therapy in asthma and in understanding asthma characteristics that can be used to predict and form individual therapies for asthma patients.
Szefler and his colleagues conducted a clinical trial to determine whether treating patients with omalizumab (Xolair) four to six weeks before the start of school, and continuing treatment for the next four months, could help prevent the predictable peaks of asthma exacerbation in children and teens, a situation that often requires hospital treatment. Usually these peaks occur when school returns after the summer break, a time known as the September Epidemic of Asthma.
The trial enrolled 727 children during the start of the fall semester of the 2012 and 2013 school years. The primary study finding showed that the fall exacerbation rate was significantly lower in the omalizumab group versus the placebo group. Other important secondary findings included:
- Omalizumab improved patients’ immune responses to rhinovirus (common cold), which also led to fewer exacerbations;
- The adverse reaction rate was similar in all treatment groups.
“The results of our study give us an exciting new way to treat pediatric patients with allergic asthma. By identifying those patients who are at high risk for fall asthma exacerbations, we can target directed treatment for them during the times of year when they’re at the greatest risk for problems. In this way, we can better control their asthma and hopefully ultimately limit their treatment duration,” Szefler said in a news release.