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Professor’s involvement in asthma jab which could save lives

07.12.2007
Doctors have been given the green light to prescribe a life-saving jab that can treat severe allergic asthma. Professor Mark Britton, a Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey and Vice-Chair of the Postgraduate Medical School Advisory Council, was involved in the British trials of Xolair (Omalizumab) before it was licensed this year.

Xolair, which blocks the allergic triggers behind 80 per cent of attacks, has been approved for NHS use by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Trials have shown the drug can halve the risks of asthma attacks and experts have hailed it a ‘wonder treatment’.

It is the first asthma injection that has been genetically engineered to block IgE – the immunoglobulin responsible for the allergic process which can lead to attacks. The new drug stops the body overreacting to inhaled allergic particles such as tree and grass pollens, cat fur and house-dust mites. Fortnightly or monthly injections have been shown to cut the risk of attacks in those with severe asthma by 55 per cent and reduce hospital admissions by half.

There are 5 million people in Britain with asthma, costing the economy and health service around £8 billion a year. The condition kills more than 1,400 people annually and a further 69,000 are put in hospital, in many cases for weeks.

Professor Britton comments: “Xolair is a breakthrough, the most important advance in asthma treatment for a decade. We can now prescribe Xolair for those severe allergic asthmatics, who are in and out of hospital with significant exacerbations. Our experience with the drug has shown that it has a dramatic effect on the quality of life for this group of unfortunate patients.”

Media enquiries: Peter La, Press Office at the University of Surrey, Tel: 01483 689191 or E-mail: p.la@surrey.ac.uk

Stuart Miller | alfa
Further information:
http://www.surrey.ac.uk

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