Study with 3TR involvement finds link between severe asthma symptoms and psoriasis medicine

The drug risankizumab is used to treat adults with psoriasis, but whether it can improve asthma control was unclear. Now, a study released Thursday (28 October 2021) in the New England Journal of Medicine establishes a connection between risankizumab and worsening symptoms in people with severe asthma. The trial, which was partly funded by the 3TR project and involved researchers from the 3TR team for asthma, investigated whether risankizumab could potentially improve asthma symptoms and reduce ‘attacks’. The randomized, double-blind trial was led by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre – a partnership between Leicester’s Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Loughborough.

The international study, which involved researchers from the United Kingdom, Belgium and Canada, recruited 214 patients into the trial, of which 105 patients were randomised to a risankizumab injection every four weeks over a 24-week period and 109 patients received a placebo.

Researchers measured the ‘time-to-first’ worsening determined by increasing symptoms, deterioration in breathing tests, increased use of inhalers and need for steroid tablets. Results indicate that risankizumab makes symptoms worse twice as fast as for the placebo group.

Study lead Professor Chris Brightling from the NIHR Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and work package leader in the 3TR project, says: “We think risankizumab reduces the presence of substances in the airways that are important factors in preventing infections, which probably makes the patients’ symptoms worse. This theory is backed by molecular profiling, which shows reduced levels of these substances in samples taken from patients on the trial.”

The paper ‘Risankizumab in Severe Asthma: A Phase IIa, Placebo-Controlled Study’ can be found here.