British scientists have developed a non-drug treatment for asthma, which they say may be a new option for patients with severe symptoms despite use of drug therapies.
The heat therapy — which ''burns away'' lung tissue blocking the airways — is known as bronchial thermoplasty and scientists claimed it was the first non-drug treatment for asthma, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.
The therapy developed by Professor Paul Corris of Newcastle University and his colleagues from Manchester and Glasgow universities, and Leicester University hospitals uses tiny probes on wires placed inside the lungs, which emit radio waves. These waves reduce the lung tissue thickened by asthma attacks.
The trial, reported in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, involved 112 patients aged between 18 and 65 in four countries, found those patients had around ten fewer asthma attacks per year than those not given the treatment and were free of their symptoms for an extra 86 days per year after treatment.
“These findings are very encouraging and consistent with earlier results,” Corris said. The therapy may be a new option for patients with severe asthma who have symptoms despite use of drug therapies, he said. The technique targets muscle tissue lining air tubes, which are sensitive to asthma triggers such as pollen and dust.
In many patients the muscle thickens because of repeated asthma attacks, which narrows the airwaves and the muscle becomes even more sensitive. The treatment aims to get rid of half of the thickened muscle. Doctors however warn the long-term risks of the technique remain unknown and it cannot cure asthma.