Researchers discuss the potential of personalised medicine for asthma treatment

What does personalised medicine mean for people living with lung diseases like asthma?

In a new article series from the European Respiratory Review, researchers discuss what personalised medicine means for people with different lung diseases, beginning with asthma.  

Personalised medicine recognises that the same disease can have different causes, symptoms and treatments for different individuals. It aims to achieve the best outcomes for each person by targeting treatment to each specific individual.   

The articles authors discuss the value of this approach for understanding and treating asthma. They explain that the disease that we all call asthma is actually several different types of airway inflammation (swelling), each with different causes. This could lead to treatments targeted to each type.  

Personalised medicine has already proved to benefit people with a type of asthma known as severe eosionophilic asthma. For other types, this approach is still relatively undeveloped 

One example the article authors discussed was the finding from the U-BIOPRED study that there was too much tumour necrosis factor (known as TNF – a substance in the body that causes swelling) produced in people with certain types of severe asthma. Targeting TNF has not been effective in previous studies that did not consider differences in asthma type. But future research that takes these differences into account might find anti-TNF helpful for people with certain types of severe asthma.  

Overall the article explains that there is still a lot of work to do before personalised medicine is part of everyday treatment for people with asthmaHowever, the approach could help to reduce the number of treatments an individual might try before finding one that works.  

These potential benefits rely on more good-quality research to improve the evidence behind the theories.  

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