New Drug Shows Promise Against Severe Sinusitis
In early trial, dupilumab helped treat nasal polyps that contribute to the illness
By Alan Mozes
WEDNESDAY, Feb. 3, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental drug for the treatment of nasal polyps has shown promise in a small, preliminary trial involving a group of patients struggling with chronic sinusitis.
Dupilumab, which is injected, is aimed at helping those patients who do not respond well to current first-line treatments, such as corticosteroids.
"The more severe patients are the target of the new treatment option," explained study author Dr. Claus Bachert, head of the Upper Airway Research Laboratory at Ghent University Hospital in Belgium.
"A new treatment is needed because the currently available treatments -- nasal and oral glucocorticosteroids and surgery of the sinuses -- are often insufficient to control the disease and may have side effects," he added.
Bachert and his colleagues published their findings in the Feb. 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was funded by Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the manufacturers of dupilumab.
The study authors noted that chronic sinusitis is a common ailment, affecting an estimated 12 percent of those living in Western nations.
Roughly one-third of those patients have a specific form of chronic sinusitis characterized by the presence of nasal polyps. Though the polyps vary in size, such growths are typically small, benign and teardrop-shaped. They take root in the mucus membrane lining of the sinus region and/or nasal cavity, the researchers said.
Patients suffering from chronic sinusitis with polyps often struggle with a long-lasting range of symptoms, which can include nasal obstruction and congestion, drip, discharge, headaches, facial pain and pressure, and a diminished sense of smell.
Standard treatment aims to reduce tissue inflammation and usually involves corticosteroids, antibiotics and/or oral steroids. Surgery is an option in some cases.
"Even after oral steroids, polyps recur after just a few weeks, and also after surgery. The recurrence rate is as high as 80 percent over 12 years," said Bachert.
Surgery also raises the risk for serious complications, he added, while oral steroids can end up weakening bones and boosting the risk for developing diabetes.