Joel Kline, M.D., and Geoffrey McLennan, M.D., Ph.D., at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics today announced the start of their participation as principal investigators in an international, multi-center clinical trial to explore a new investigational asthma treatment that may change the way doctors treat patients affected by asthma in the future.
The AIR2 (Asthma Interventional Research) study focuses on a procedure called Bronchial Thermoplasty. The innovative procedure is being researched at sites across the United States, Canada, Brazil, Australia and the United Kingdom. The minimally invasive procedure is still under clinical investigation, but early patient data suggest it may hold promise for moderate and severe asthmatic patients.Asthma is a disease involving greater-than-normal responsiveness of airways in the lungs to a variety of stimuli. This increased responsiveness can take the form of swelling of the airway wall; excess mucus production that can clog the airways; and significant narrowing of the airways when tiny muscles in the airway wall, called “airway smooth muscle,” go into spasm.”The smooth muscle in your airway stabilizes the airway wall. Contraction in the smooth muscle is a normal protective mechanism if noxious air or gases are inhaled,” Kline explained. “But in asthmatic people the smooth muscle contracts abnormally, going into severe spasm much like a cramp. This narrows the airway considerably, causing real health consequences for people with asthma.””During Bronchial Thermoplasty, an outpatient bronchoscopic procedure, we use the Alair System to go into the airways with a flexible bronchoscope through the nose or mouth. We then deliver thermal energy to the airway walls to reduce the presence of airway smooth muscle with the intent of reducing the smooth muscle spasm,” McLennan said.Asthma is one of the most common and costly diseases in the world. It affects more than 20 million people diagnosed with the disease in the United States alone. With an estimated two million emergency room visits, and 6,000 deaths per year, the prevalence of the incurable disorder is on the rise.The researchers are careful to point out that they do not expect that this new investigational procedure will cure asthma. However, it is hoped that this procedure could be useful in reducing the severity and frequency of asthma symptoms and improving quality of life for patients with asthma. (Source: University of Iowa: March 2006.)