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Health Team

New therapy offers relief, hope for asthma patients

Posted May 7, 2018 5:10 p.m. EDT

— More than 24 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma, and 10 percent of them have a tough time controlling it, even with treatment.

But a new form of therapy -- known as biologic -- is providing relief for many asthma sufferers.

There are currently four biologic therapies that have been approved by the FDA to treat asthma. This new approach is available for people with severe asthma that is difficult to control, despite standard medications

For people like Lynn Kocka, the new treatment has helped to ease their breathing problems.

"I feel like I'm getting back to my fitness level," said Kocka, who struggled with severe asthma for years. Despite receiving asthma treatment for years, Kocka had difficulty exercising and working until she tried biologic therapy.

"Biologics actually target a specific pathway that's causing the asthma (so we can) try and target it so that asthma can get controlled," said Dr. Sumita Khatri, a physician at the Cleveland Clinic.

After an injection of biologic therapy in the back of her arm every four weeks, Kocka saw fast results.

"Within five days, I could tell in my chest that I was not coughing as much," Kocka said. "So, it was pretty amazing."

Research shows biologic therapies effectively control severe asthma by reducing the number of flare-ups and trips to the hospital. It may even reduce the need for some asthma medicines.

"Some patients with severe asthma can be on high-dose oral steroids, too, which has some significant side-effects," Khatri said. "So, these biologics might actually reduce the need for those oral steroids."

Kocka said the therapy has allowed her to reclaim her active life.

"I can absolutely do everything I could do before I became sick," she said. "Everyday, normal life is totally 100 percent better."