Dundee University scientists are at the forefront of a world-leading project to create a new drug which could dramatically improve the lives of thousands of chronic lung condition sufferers.
The final results of a major international study were announced by a leading city academic to a virtual meeting of the American Thoracic Society broadcast around the globe.
James Chalmers, British Lung Foundation Professor of Respiratory Research at Dundee University said the second phase of the Willow scheme had delivered clinical trial results which could see the drug become reality for people living with long-term lung conditions.
It could prevent the need for antibiotics or emergency surgery, transforming the lives of 200,000 people UK-wide affected by a condition which claims 1,500 lives each year.
Scientists at the university, in collaboration with global biopharmaceutical company Insmed Incorporated, tested brensocatib in patients living with non-cystic fibrosis bronchiectasis, a build-up of mucus which causes abnormal widening of the airways.
Finals results showed patients could potentially reduce their risk of pulmonary disease caused by the condition by more than a third.
The university’s school of medicine is currently exploring whether brensocatib could also be used to prevent the need for mechanical ventilation in Covid-19 cases.
The drug will need to undergo further rounds of clinical trials and receive regulatory approval before it can be routinely prescribed by doctors.
Professor Chalmers said: “Living with bronchiectasis means that you’re constantly at risk of needing emergency treatment when the condition worsens.
“We currently rely on antibiotics to treat the chest infections caused by bronchiectasis, with few options to stop the disease from getting worse in the first place.
“We are excited by the possibility of a drug which can break the vicious cycle of inflammation, lung damage and infection for these patients, giving them a much better quality of life.
“This trial is a world first in treating an incurable lung condition that affects millions of people worldwide.”
Although many cases of bronchiectasis are normally treated with a short course of antibiotics, hospital treatment is often the required to deal with more serious instances.
Symptoms include chronic cough, excessive sputum production, shortness of breath, and repeated chest infections, which can worsen the underlying condition.