Are your asthma medications not working well enough to control your symptoms? Has your doctor mentioned the possibility of joining a clinical trial to you? Clinical trials are large studies that investigate a new medication or medical device to make sure they’re safe and effective to use in humans. These studies are a great opportunity to try new therapies you wouldn’t otherwise have access to and a way to contribute to the advancement of science and medicine.
Current clinical trials for asthma are investigating new medications in addition to monitoring available therapies and their effects on those living with this disease. Doctors and researchers use clinical trials to gather information in large groups of participants with (and occasionally without) asthma to learn more about treatments and the disease itself.
New clinical trials are always beginning and recruiting participants around the United States. Keep reading to learn more about new asthma treatments and trends being studied and how you can take an active role in your health by participating.
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New Asthma Treatments
Asthma is an inflammatory disease that causes your airways to swell and narrow, making it hard to breathe properly. Many currently available asthma treatments — especially biologics — work by altering immune system function to dampen inflammation. These therapies work by blocking specific parts of the immune system, such as certain white blood cells or chemical messengers responsible for causing inflammation and swelling.1
Doctors and researchers continue to look for new ways to target the immune system to treat asthma. By targeting inflammation at its source, biologics can effectively treat severe asthma symptoms and reduce the need for quick-relief medications.2,3 Investigational biologic drugs are currently being studied that block immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies that are responsible for causing allergic asthma, along with others that block inflammatory proteins known as interleukins (ILs). Many of these treatments are currently approved but are being studied for more targeted asthma indications as well as for treatment of other allergic diseases.
Clinical trials for new asthma treatments involve both children and adults since asthma tends to develop in childhood. Investigators are hopeful that these new biologics are at least as safe and effective (if not more effective) than currently available therapies.4
Researching and Monitoring Approved Treatments for Asthma
Investigators also use clinical trials as a way to learn more about and monitor approved treatments, ensuring they’re still safe and effective in the general public. These studies help doctors and researchers learn more about the long-term effects of therapies several years after approval.
Initial clinical trials focus on determining whether a new therapy is safe and helps to alleviate asthma symptoms in smaller groups of affected individuals. Later clinical trials, which involve larger numbers of patients, can investigate different aspects of the medication further. For example, we know that dupilumab (Dupixent®) helps to reduce asthma attacks and improve breathing. However, doctors and researchers may also be interested in learning more about how it affects mucous clearance or levels of white blood cells in the lungs.5
Post-marketing surveillance, whether as part of a clinical trial or not, is also performed on approved therapies to make sure they remain safe and effective and that they aren’t associated with any adverse events missed in initial studies.6,7 Sometimes, it can take several years for unwanted side effects to reveal themselves — for example, ranitidine (Zantac®) causing certain types of cancer.8
Asthma Monitoring and Technology
Doctors and researchers are also interested in learning more about new ways to help people with asthma to monitor their symptoms and flares with technology, typically “remotely” at home. Clinical trials aren’t just for studying new medications — they’re also used to learn more about how social media, websites, and telemedicine can be used to improve the lives of those with asthma. They offer investigators the chance to learn about diseases in large groups of people in a controlled environment.
Current trends in asthma research related to technologic innovations include:9-13
- Utilizing wearable technology and devices to monitor asthma symptoms
- Studying how social programs and asthma education can improve awareness and reduce asthma attacks
- Investigating how mobile phone applications can improve the quality of life in those with asthma
- Learning more about how telemedicine and telehealth can be used to manage asthma and prevent asthma attacks
Joining an Asthma Clinical Trial
Find Clinical Trials Near Me
Interested in clinical trials? Simply search by postal code and type of condition to see what’s going on in your area.
If you’re interested in joining a clinical trial, it’s important to think about your reasons for participating, along with any benefits and risks there are to you. Your doctor, friends, and family are great resources to talk with as you weigh your options. Ultimately, the decision to participate in a clinical trial is up to you, keeping your goals, overall health, and best interests in mind.
After you’ve made the decision to join a clinical trial, you can begin searching for studies you qualify for. All clinical trials post their requirements for participating, known as eligibility or inclusion criteria. There are some requirements you must meet in order to participate (inclusion criteria), while there are others that prevent you from participating (exclusion criteria).
For asthma clinical trials, inclusion criteria may involve being a certain age, having a confirmed asthma diagnosis, having a certain level of asthma severity or quality of life impact, and having allergies. Exclusion criteria can include smoking or vaping, using oral corticosteroids, or being pregnant. These criteria are selected to make sure the data collected in a clinical trial are as accurate as possible and to keep participants safe.