Old osteoporosis drug could be breakthrough for asthma

Thursday, 23 Apr 2015

A class of drugs originally developed as a treatment for osteoporosis may have a role to play in the treatment of asthma, researchers say.

Using mouse models of asthma and human airway tissue from people with and without asthma the research team discovered environmental triggers released chemicals which activated calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) in airways smooth muscle (ASM) to drive asthma symptoms like inflammation and narrowing.

However the researchers, led by Professor Daniela Riccardi, from Cardiff University School of Biosciences, found that by using calcilytics, nebulized directly into the lungs, it was possible to deactivate CaSR and prevent symptoms.

According to study co-author Professor Paul Kemp from Cardiff University the identification of CaSR in airway tissue means that the potential for treatment of other inflammatory lung diseases beyond asthma — like COPD and chronic bronchitis — was immense.

Calcilytics were first developed for the treatment of osteoporosis around 15 years ago but although clinically safe they were unsuccessful.

If the research group can secure further funding they aim to trial the drugs on humans within two years.

“If we can prove that calcilytics are safe when administered directly to the lung in people, then in five years we could be in a position to treat patients and potentially stop asthma from happening in the first place,” said Professor Riccardi.

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