Experts recently published an article reporting the success of preclinical tests for a novel asthma vaccine. The results of the study show that the vaccine is effective in generating antibodies against inflammatory molecules that are well-known triggers of severe asthma. Researchers are now eyeing first-phase human clinical trials for the said vaccine.

Asthma Explained

Image of an asthma inhaler.
(Photo: NIAID / WikiCommons)

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the disease is known as asthma primarily affects the lungs and is most commonly a long-term disease of children. It causes breathlessness, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing early in the morning or at night.

If a patient is diagnosed with asthma, they will have it all the time, however, asthma attacks will only happen when something, such as an allergen, bothers the lungs.

As of now, the origins and causes of asthma are unknown. However, we are sure that environmental, genetic, and occupational factors are related to the development of asthma.

In 2019, the CDC reports more than 25 million patients were diagnosed with asthma. 5 million of which were children below 18 years old, while more than 20 million were adults.

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Dupilumab-Like Asthma Vaccine Development

Asthma is a heterogeneous disease that goes beyond treating acute flare-ups with inhaled corticosteroids which proves as an immense challenge for developing a universal treatment. On the other hand, a unique response observed in roughly 50% of asthma patients is the excessive production of two distinct inflammatory molecules in the airways known as IL-4 and IL-13.

It has shown that the successful blocking of the actions of the two inflammatory molecules decreases the rate of severe asthmatic flare-ups and improves overall lung function in asthmatic patients.

A treatment known as Dupilumab has been developed and approved for use in patients with moderate-to-severe asthma since 2018. The monoclonal antibody treatment is efficiently designed to block the actions of Il-4 and IL-13 signaling. However, it has several noteworthy limitations as a long-term remedy. In addition, monoclonal antibody therapies are expensive and can cost thousands of dollars per dose, and need continuous dosing to treat chronic diseases such as asthma.

The new research published in the journal Nature Communications, entitled "Dual vaccination against IL-4 and IL-13 protects against chronic allergic asthma in mice" describes the development of a novel vaccine that is designed specifically to induce the body to create its own antibodies against the inflammatory molecules IL-4 and IL-13.

Researchers designed a conjugate vaccine binding a weak antigen with a strong antigen to induce antibodies against the included weak antigen. For this instance, the experimental asthma vaccine is coupled with the IL-molecules with a non-pathogenic toxin.

The authors of the study describe numerous successful pre-clinical tests of the novel asthma vaccine. Using mouse models to demonstrate the vaccine's production of antibodies against inflammatory molecules offering up to 1 year of immunization. The study also shows that the asthma vaccine can reduce asthma symptoms in the experiments modeling the acute allergic flare-ups that asthmatic patients are forced to live with.

The dupilumab-like novel asthma vaccine paves the way for further clinical development of efficient long-term vaccines against asthma and other inflammatory molecule-mediated allergic diseases like atopic dermatitis, chronic urticaria, and food allergies.

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