The DREAMstudy (not to be confused with the DREAM Project recently reported on by ddn) tested mepolizumab in patients with severe eosinophilicasthma—in this form of asthma, the patient's organs are damaged by a surplus ofwhite blood cells. The yearlong study involved 621 patients and indicated thatthe number of "clinically significant exacerbations" in patients mepolizumab thatwould normally require the used of oral corticosteroids or a hospital visit occurredat about half the rate of those patients taking placebo.
A major selling point of GSK's new monoclonal antibody-based drug, which targetsinterleukin-5, is that it is taken just once a month.
GSK may be hoping that the can offset some of thefinancial pain to come when the company loses patent protection for its asthmaand chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drug Seretide/Advair. This hope, andthe good study results, may explain why the drug is getting some attention bythe company now despite being in Phase II trials since the late 1990s—in partbecause such a small number of asthmatics suffer from this severe form of thedisease; reportedly, about 4 percent.