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WI Researcher: Good News for Asthma Sufferers

March 28, 2011

MADISON, Wis. - Few things are as frightening as an asthma attack, and now a national team of researchers led by Dr. William Busse at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health has discovered a treatment that can help make the attacks milder. By using a medication called omalizumab, researchers were able to shut down the antibody that triggers allergic reactions, which have long been suspected in asthma attacks.

Busse calls it a positive advance.

"Any time we can get information to improve control of asthma, that's good news, because people with asthma have a lot of difficulties; they're symptomatic all the time. This should be reassuring to them: Treatments are being developed, are available, that can really improve their quality of life."

The Wisconsin Asthma Coalition says asthma affects about 14 percent of Wisconsin adults and 10 percent of the state's children under 18. This new research was done among inner-city children, who are at greatest risk for severe asthma attacks, but Busse says the new treatment will benefit all asthma sufferers.

Researchers have previously noticed spikes in severe attacks in spring and fall, when seasonal allergies are highest. Since this study verified that connection, Busse is hopeful more medications can be developed.

"It really indicated the importance of allergic problems, as far as the susceptibility for an asthma attack with a cold. It's giving us insight, and any time you have insight, you can learn, and you can improve treatment."

The children who received the treatment described in the new study had a 75-percent reduction in hospital admissions, which represents a tremendous cost-saving to parents, Busse adds. He recommends that children with asthma be treated just before the allergy seasons, in spring and fall.

The study is available at

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI