Feature Article

Severe asthma: new frontiers of treatment

Jo Douglass, Nur-Shirin Harun



New therapies that specifically target inflammatory pathways or aberrant physiology in severe asthma offer substantial opportunities for effective treatment. Some of these therapies are available under specialist referral, and others are available in the context of clinical trials.

Key Points

  • Asthma affects about 10% of people in Australia, about 5% of whom will have severe disease.
  • Severe asthma is asthma that is inadequately controlled despite the use of maximal doses of inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-agonists or that requires additional treatment with oral corticosteroids to remain controlled.
  • A diagnosis of asthma can be confirmed by spirometry.
  • Patients with severe asthma or in whom the diagnosis is suspected should be referred to a specialist.
  • New therapies for severe asthma are emerging, targeting inflammatory pathways or aberrant physiology.
  • The monoclonal antibody omalizumab is available in Australia on specialist prescription for severe allergic asthma.

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