Many asthma medications on the market today treat the symptoms of asthma, causing patients to use inhalers and other medications that are only capable of treating restricted breathing on a case-by-case basis. A new medication from AstraZeneca is poised to treat a root cause of severe asthma in patients, and the medication just passed its last clinical trial.
The medication is called benralizumab, and it’s the first respiratory medication AstraZeneca is releasing between now and 2020. The difference between benralizumab and currently available asthma medications is that benralizumab is biological in nature rather than chemical. This means that biological medications will work on fewer patients because biological drugs function in highly specialized environments, whereas chemical drugs are designed in such a way that they function in a multitude of environments.
What benralizumab is designed to do is attack eosinophils, a kind of white blood cell that fights infection by promoting inflammation. If there are too many eosinophils, the inflammation can be damaging to surrounding tissue. In the lungs, that can cause severe asthma. Benralizumab is designed to eliminate esosinophils.
This is the first biological drug AstraZeneca has created, and they say there is a large market for biological respiratory drugs. About half of all asthma sufferers have eosinophils, which makes benralizumab a potentially monumental drug, despite the fact that it is biological in nature.
Now that benralizumab has passed the clinical trials, it will soon be submitted to US and European regulators. AstraZeneca is hoping to release a total of four respiratory drugs by 2020, and its second biological drug is nearing the end of its clinical trials as well. Benralizumab is expected to hit the market in 2018.