Asthma and allergies carry one of the largest health burdens in the United States. Annually, children report missing four days of school due to asthma while adults claim five days of work.

Treatments fall short

Clinical studies have suggested individuals with allergic rhinitis experience sleep problems, and rate their overall health lower, compared with those who don’t have allergies.

Existing treatment options for the respiratory conditions aren’t effective in all individuals, and some pose unwanted side effects. However, emerging clinical research involving novel therapeutic agents to target inflammation in asthma may offer promise for a better solution in the future, according to Douglas T. Johnston, principal investigator at Clinical Research of Charlotte.

“'Many patients in clinical trials also benefit by being closely followed and continuously monitored to ensure safety.'”

He explains that scientists are studying how customizing therapeutic antibodies that may lead to allergy or inflammation may provide for more individualized care. “The hope is that new therapies will allow clinicians to tailor treatments based on the individual, with the goal of more precise therapy,” says Johnston. 

Patients play a role

Patients hoping to help propel these advancements can volunteer to participate in clinical trials, to either help improve their own lives or the lives of other patients like themselves.

“Many clinical trials may offer patients the option of receiving therapies before they are approved and assist them with costs of therapy,” Johnston says. “Many patients in clinical trials also benefit by being closely followed and continuously monitored to ensure safety.”

Johnston advised patients considering enrolling in a clinical trial to familiarize themselves with the study model. If it’s a double-blinded, placebo-controlled study, some patients may get the study drug while others may get the placebo and neither the researchers nor the patients will know which they have received. Trial periods vary, but typically, clinical trials last several months.

Johnston, for example, is working on a study where he and his colleagues are conducting a study with patients suffering from peanut allergies, one of the most common food allergies—and one that can be life-threatening. “The idea is to gradually give very small amounts of peanut with the goal of being able to give several peanuts without an adverse reaction,” he sums. “There are a lot of exciting developments in the field of food allergy.”