Asthma is a respiratory health condition that ranges from mild to serious for those who suffer from it. Those with asthma experience narrowing and swelling of their airways, which can make it difficult to breath. This may lead to symptoms of shortness of breath, coughing, and/or wheezing. These symptoms may just be minor to some but could lead to a serious, life-threatening asthma attack for others with the disease. There is no cure for asthma but reducing triggers and environmental exposures sometimes can help reduce signs and symptoms. There are also medications that help reduce and control symptoms. It is important for those with asthma to work closely with their healthcare provider to track symptoms and assure you’re on the most appropriate therapies.
The mainstay of therapy in asthma includes different types of inhalers. There are inhalers used just for treating immediate symptoms, and inhalers to be used daily to prevent symptoms. There are also some oral (pills) medications that can help with asthma. A more recent development in asthma treatment has come in the form of injections, also called “biologics”. These injectable therapies can target different molecules in the body that worsen asthma. They are typically administered every 2 to 8 weeks (depending on the specific medication) as an add-on therapy to maintenance medications like inhalers or pills. Examples include Dupixent (dupilumab), Xolair (omalizumab), Nucala (mepolizumab), Fasenra (benralizumab), and Cinqair (reslizumab).
In December 2021, a new injectable medication to treat severe asthma was approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) called Tezspire (Tezepelumab). It was approved for those who are 12 years and older as an add-on therapy to their maintenance asthma therapies. It is administered subcutaneously (under the skin) every 4 weeks. The most common side effects reported were sore throat and joint pain.
Tezspire is being touted as the first biologic treatment approved for all types of severe asthma and is the first type of medication in its class, meaning it works differently than the other biologics already available. Tezspire works by targeting TSLP (thymic stromal lymphopoietin inhibitor), which is thought to be part of the cause of airway inflammation and increased airway sensitivity. Though, the exact way Tezspire works for asthma has not been fully defined.
Tezspire gained approval by the FDA based on two drug trials – PATHWAY and NAVIGATOR. The studies primarily sought to examine how frequently the subjects experienced asthma exacerbations in a year and proved to significantly reduce asthma exacerbations. Those in the study had to have diagnosed asthma and already be on an asthma controller medication/maintenance therapy. The trials were limited by excluding people who currently smoke or have a long history of smoking. They also did not include those with other respiratory diseases or chronic alcohol or drug abuse.
If you have severe asthma, you may know the struggles of finding a regimen that improves your symptoms and quality of life. The FDA approval of Tezspire is novel and helps increase the options for treatment in those suffering from asthma.