Recently, I discussed some new and innovative therapies for asthma. Whenever a new drug is studied, and the required studies are completed, researchers look back at the data to see if anything else can be squeezed out of it. Now that I have set the scene, let me remind you that many patients with asthma also have associated upper airway problems. These problems include chronic sinus disease and nasal polyps. Sometimes the symp- toms of the upper airway problems cause more distress than the asthma itself.
Most of the medications we use for asthma have little effect on the chronic sinus disease and nasal polyps of our patients. One new drug has been found to have a very positive effect on the treatment of the upper airway symptoms of our asthma patients. This drug (which I will not mention by name for fear you may think I am promoting it) interferes with one of the chemical elements of the inflammation pathway seen in asthmatics. It inhibits something called interleukin-5. It is most effective in patients that have high levels of blood cells called eosinophils.
These blood cells are also involved in the inflammation pathway seen in asthmatics. The interesting thing about this new asthma therapy is that not only does it help asthma symptoms, but also was more effective in patients who were older and had chronic sinus disease and nasal polyps. One potential problem for some patients is the fact that this is an injectable medication not a pill or an inhaler.