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Research guides medication choices for young Asthma patients

New research should help physicians choose effective asthma medications tailored to the characteristics of their individual patients. Researchers at National Jewish Medical and Research Center and their colleagues in the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's (NHLBI) Childhood Asthma Research and Education Network identify in the February Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology specific characteristics in children associated with better responses to inhaled steroids and to leukotriene receptor antagonists. The research builds on a trend to use scientific evidence, rather than trial-and-error, to customize medication choices for specific individuals.

"We found that responses to these two medications varied considerably from child to child," said Stanley Szefler, M.D., lead author and Professor of Pediatrics at National Jewish Medical and Research Center. "Young asthma patients with low pulmonary function or evidence of allergic inflammation are most likely to respond well to inhaled corticosteroids and should try those first. Other young patients can try either the inhaled steroids or leukotriene receptor antagonists first. Patients under 10 years of age who have had asthma for a short time may respond well to the leukotriene receptor antagonists." Inhaled corticosteroids are broadly acting anti-inflammatory medications that are applied directly to the airways by breathing them in.

Leukotriene receptor antagonists, taken in pill form, act systemically to block substances call leukotrienes, which are associated with inflammation and allergic reactions. Both medications are considered effective, but inhaled steroids are currently the preferred long-term therapy for persistent asthma.

"If we can pinpoint in advance which children will do better with a certain type of therapy, we can improve their lives more quickly and save them the risk of trying medications that are less effective for them," noted James Kiley, Ph.D., director of the N
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Contact: William Allstetter
allstetterw@njc.org
303-398-1002
National Jewish Medical and Research Center
1-Feb-2005


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