A new drug could significantly reduce the symptoms of asthma in patients, according to researchers.
The pill, called Fevipiprant, has been described as a “a game changer for future treatment of asthma”.
It was found to decrease the symptoms of asthma, improve lung function, reduce inflammation and repair the lining of airways.
Three people die every day because of asthma attacks and research shows that two thirds of asthma deaths are preventable, according to Asthma UK.
Asthma is a long-term condition that affects the airways. When a person with asthma comes into contact with something that irritates their airways it causes the body to react in several ways which can include wheezing, coughing and can make breathing more difficult.
Fevipiprant (QAW039) is currently being evaluated in late stage clinical trials to determine how effective it is in reducing symptoms in patients with severe asthma.
It is the first new asthma pill for nearly 20 years.
A total of 61 people took part in the study, which was conducted by researchers at University of Leicester and later published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine journal.
One group was given 225mg of the drug twice a day for 12 weeks and the other was given a placebo drug – both were taken in addition to the medications the participants were already taking.
The study was designed to examine the effects on inflammation in the airway by measuring the sputum eosinophil count, an inflammation measurement of a white blood cell that increases in asthma and is used to assess the severity of this condition.
People who do not have asthma have a percentage of less than one and those with moderate-to-severe asthma typically have a reading of about 5%.
The rate in people with moderate-to-severe asthma taking the medication was reduced from an average of 5.4% to 1.1% over 12 weeks.
Professor Christopher Brightling, Clinical Professor in Respiratory Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “A unique feature of this study was how it included measurements of symptoms, lung function using breathing tests, sampling of the airway wall and CT scans of the chest to give a complete picture of how the new drug works.
“Most treatments might improve some of these features of disease, but with Fevipiprant improvements were seen with all of the types of tests.
“We already know that using treatments to target eosinophilic airway inflammation can substantially reduce asthma attacks.
“This new treatment, Fevipiprant, could likewise help to stop preventable asthma attacks, reduce hospital admissions and improve day-to-day symptoms- making it a ‘game changer’ for future treatment.”
Gaye Stokes, from Grantham in Lincolnshire, has had severe asthma for 16 years. She took part in the trial and was part of the Fevipiprant group.
The 54-year-old said: “I knew straight away that I had been given the drug. I felt like a completely different person. I had more get up and go, I was less wheezy and for the first time in years I felt really, really well.
“For me, it felt like a complete wonder drug and I can’t wait for it to be available because I really think it could make a huge difference to me.”
After the 12-week trial had ended, Gaye said her health started to “go downhill again very quickly”.