An Australian scientist is working on a new drug that would lighten the hearts of millions of people suffering from asthma and allergies.
Barry Marshall, a microbiology professor at the University of Western Australia (UWA), who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2005 for stomach ulcer research, is developing a drug to counter asthma and allergies to food such as peanuts and shellfish. The medicine, named Immbalance, aims to suppress an overactive immune system.
On Friday, Marshall said, “This actually arose from work we were doing on helicobacter, the stomach bug, for which Dr (Robin) Warren and I won the Nobel Prize a few years ago.”
“We’ve discovered the way it survives in your body is by suppressing the immune system so you can’t get rid of it.
“I can’t guarantee that it’s going to cure allergy sufferers… we think this kind of thing will bring people who are hyper reactive… down into the normal range.”
Still in its initial stage, the drug can be taken as tablets, capsules, liquids or powder. In a media release on Friday, he said that children could spread the powder on their cereal or put it in a drink and over the course of a few months could suppress their allergic response.
He said, “We think it’s going to be 100 percent safe. It won’t remove your immune system; it will just take the edge off.”
Asthma is a respratory disease that has no cure. However, there are a number of treatments that can help control the condition. The most common one being rescue inhaler, a small device that delivers a spray or powder medicine to your breathing tubes as you breathe in.
Australia has one of the highest allergy rates in the world with referrals for food allergies increasing 10-fold in the last decade as hospitalizations for severe food-related allergic reactions or anaphylaxis went up five-fold.
Marshall said, “It appears when everything is very clean and children aren’t exposed to enough infectious or non-infectious bacteria the immune system can get ramped up.”
“They then can become more reactive to all kinds of new proteins in their diet or susceptible to pollen in the air,” she said.