Omalizumab Could Help Asthmatic Children Fight Colds

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PROSE Data Presented at AAAAI Annual Meeting Points to Decreased Rates of Cold Symptoms

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New research shows omalizumab to be a promising treatment or prevention option for virus-induced asthma exacerbations, an important public health issue that affects every child with asthma.

Acute asthma exacerbations, including the asthma attacks caused by viral infections like the common cold, lead to missed days of school and a decreased quality of life for asthmatic children and their families. Furthermore, asthma disproportionately affects low-income, minority and inner-city populations with higher morbidity and mortality rates.

“We previously showed that treatment with omalizumab can reduce the length of viral infection and it can also improve interferon/antiviral responses. We wondered, then, if omalizumab could decrease the time that children with asthma have symptoms from upper respiratory illnesses,” James Gern, MD, FAAAAI, with University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health said.

The Preventative Omalizumab or Step-up Therapy for Severe Fall Exacerbations (PROSE) study randomized 478 asthmatic children, aged 6 to 17, from low-income census tracts to receive either guidelines-based asthma care, fluticasone boost or add-on omalizumab. Cold symptom scoring sheets were collected weekly over the four-month treatment period during the fall seasons of 2012 or 2013.

Colds were assessed weekly and identified as increased symptoms: runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, cough and sore throat. In total, 5,873 cold assessments were completed and 1,034 (18%) symptomatic illnesses were detected.

In total, rates of colds in participants treated with add-on omalizumab were decreased (0.15/sample) compared to participants who only received guidelines-based asthma care (0.20/sample), a difference of 27%. Fluticasone boosts (0.17) had no significant effect on cold rates.

“Rates of colds per sample were significantly reduced in the omalizumab group, and this effect was seen across asthma treatment steps with the same rate of reduction observed in children with moderate and severe persistent asthma,” Gern said.

For more information on asthma or the AAAAI Annual Meeting, visit the AAAAI website. Research presented at the AAAAI Annual Meeting is published in an online supplement to The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,800 members in the United States, Canada and 72 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.


Editor's notes:

·    This study was presented during the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, March 4-7 in Los Angeles. However, it does not necessarily reflect the policies or the opinions of the AAAAI.

·    A link to all abstracts presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting is available at

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