People with lung disease can be offered first treatment with the daily pill

Lung disease sufferers with serious breathing problems could be offered the first treatment for their illness with the daily pill

  • Bronchiectasis causes phlegm to build up in the airways, leaving patients bedridden with repeated lung infections; there is no known cure
  • Eventually, it can damage the lungs to such an extent that cracks form in the tissues, causing bleeding; this can lead to respiratory failure – and death
  • Until now, the only treatment for the disease, which affects around 400,000 Britons, has been breathing exercises and repeated courses of antibiotics.
  • A new daily pill, called brensocatib, could bring real hope

People with a lung disease that causes serious breathing problems and disability should be offered the very first treatment for their condition in a trial.

Bronchiectasis causes phlegm to build up in the airways, leaving patients bedridden with repeated lung infections.

There is no known cure, and over time it can damage the lungs to such an extent that cracks form in the tissues, causing bleeding. Ultimately, patients can suffer respiratory failure and even die.

People with a lung disease that causes serious breathing problems and disability should be offered the very first treatment for their condition in a trial. Bronchiectasis (CT scan, above) causes phlegm to build up in the airways, leaving patients bedridden with repeated lung infections

Until now, the only treatment for the condition, which affects around 400,000 Britons, has been breathing exercises and repeated courses of antibiotics, but a new daily pill, called brensocatib, may offer real hope.

Professor James Chalmers, who holds a chair in respiratory research at the University of Dundee and is leading the brensocatib trial, said: “Current treatments place a huge burden on patients, with many spending several hours a day doing exercises and inhaling antibiotics.

“If the new drug is approved, it would be a major milestone in treatment.”

Bronchiectasis is an inflammatory condition that permanently widens the airways and causes the body to produce excess mucus – a sticky substance used to trap pathogens. As a result, bacteria-filled mucus builds up in the lungs, leaving patients prone to lung infections.

To counter this threat, immune cells called neutrophils rush to the lungs.

But rather than engulf the bacteria as they normally would, the neutrophils react to the chemical signals given off by the bacteria and explode.

This further congests the lungs, making it harder for the body to clear the infection.

In previous trials, brensocatib was found to reduce the number of lung infections patients suffer from by half. The results of the new trial involving 1,600 patients are expected next year.

Brensocatib is a new class of drugs called dipeptidyl peptidase 1 (DPP-1) inhibitors. Normally, the DPP-1 enzyme signals the immune system to destroy bacteria, but with bronchiectasis, patients release too many immune compounds and it is this over-response that ends up damaging the lungs.

By blocking the production of DPP-1, the new drug allows the body’s immune system to function normally.

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About Antoine L. Cassell

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