Pharmaceutical giant, AstraZeneca, has just released positive results from their Phase III asthma study. The data, presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) international congress, indicated that benralizumab showed promise in treating individuals with eosinophilic phenotype asthma. Eosinophil cells are white blood cells that are generally present around sites of inflammation, and can be present in certain cases of severe asthma. Originally, AstraZeneca announced in May that its SIROCCO and CALIMA trials met their primary endpoints, however, more information has now come to light.
The new drug demonstrated an ability to reduce exacerbations, improve lung function, and reduce other asthma symptoms when added to standard-of-care treatment methods. 2,511 individuals were treated with either a placebo, benralizumab every 4 weeks, or benralizumab every eight weeks after the first three 4-week-spaced doses. The treatment lasted for 56 weeks and was given to patients subcutaneously via a pre-filled syringe.
The annual rate of asthma exacerbations was reduced up to 51 percent, as well as an overall reduction in other asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest tightness, cough, and wheeze. Additionally, lung function, as measured by FEV1 changes (forced expiratory volume in 1 second), increased up to 159mL. There were no differences in the results found between the 4-week dosed and 8-week dosed groups, meaning that a lower rate of dosing may be an option with benralizumab.
The drug is an anti-eosinophil monoclonal antibody which starts completely depleting eosinophils within 24 hours of administration. The drug was also found to reduce exacerbation rate, improve total asthma symptom scores, and improve FEV1 rates in individuals with 3 or more exacerbations within the previous year.
These results have AstraZeneca very excited. Chief Medical Officer, Sean Bohen, even noted that, “benralizumab has a unique way of working in patients with severe asthma with an eosinophilic phenotype,” a population that makes up for a large amount of asthma-related healthcare costs. These results will be cited by AstraZeneca as they try to get the drug on the market in the U.S. and EU later this year.