Asthma vaccine breakthrough paves way for clinical trial

Allergic asthma, a common condition in which one experiences asthma symptoms after exposure to allergens like dust mites, impacts hundreds of millions of people around the world. In the most severe cases, the disease can have a massive impact on one's life and even be deadly if an asthma attack happens away from one's emergency inhaler. A new vaccine breakthrough may eventually change that.

Mild asthma may be treated with emergency inhalers and lifestyle changes, while more severe asthma is typically treated using corticosteroid inhalers. For those on the extreme end of the asthma severity scale, however, even a corticosteroid inhaler may not be enough, which is where pricey monoclonal antibodies come in. These treatments require long-term injections, however, and many people struggle to afford them.

An asthma vaccine would revolutionize things for people who have asthma, but one does not yet exist. That may change due to research from Institut Pasteur and other French institutions, which have published a study on a conjugate vaccine used on animal models.

The vaccine involved the carrier protein CRM197, which is commonly used in conjugate vaccines, coupled with recombinant IL-4 and IL-13 cytokines, which are produced in the airways after exposure to an allergen, fueling asthma symptoms.

Animals given this vaccine were found to have a 'sustained production of antibodies' that directly target the IL-4 and IL-13 cytokines, with 90-percent of the tested mice reaching high levels of these antibodies after six weeks. Sixty percent of the mice retained adequate antibodies for neutralizing the cytokines a full year later.

Vaccinated mice experienced a notable decrease in things like mucus production and other symptoms, as well. No adverse effects were noted in the vaccinated animals. Though this doesn't mean we'll see an asthma vaccine for humans in the near future, it does pave the way for a clinical trial, bringing humanity one step closer to a potential vaccine for this disease.