Gallopamil shows efficacy for severe asthma

by Bruce Sylvester: Results from a French pilot study suggest that gallopamil effectively reduces symptoms in severe asthma. The findings appeared on  January 28, 2015 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

As background the authors noted that severe asthma remodels of the bronchi, worsening obstruction of the airways in ‘classic’ asthma. Gallopamil reduces bronchial smooth muscle mass, providing relief.

To date  no pharmaceutical treatment has shown efficacy in preventing excessive remodeling of cellular structure underlying severe asthma, including corticosteroids, the reference treatment for the condition.

A team of researchers from the Cardio-Thoracic Research Centre of the University of Bordeaux, France  enrolled 31 subjects in the study. All had been diagnosed with severe asthma, characterized by chronic breathing difficulty, restricted physical activity, frequent nocturnal attacks, and prolonged asthma attacks requiring systemic treatment].

The researchers  conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the effect of gallopamil on airway remodeling in patients with severe asthma.  Subjects received either gallopamil (n=16) or placebo (n=15) for 1 year and were monitored for an additional 3-month period. Investigators analyzed airway remodeling at baseline and after 12 months using both fiberoptic bronchoscopy and CT scan. The primary endpoint was the bronchial smooth muscle (BSM) area. Secondary endpoints included normalized BSM thickness and frequency of asthma exacerbations.

They found  a significant reduction in BSM in asthmatic patients treated with gallopamil compared with the placebo-treated subjects. The drug therefore enabled a significant reduction in the thickness of the bronchial wall in patients.

In the 3-month follow-up phase, the investigators  found that that subjects treated with gallopamil had significantly fewer prolonged attacks than placebo-treated subjects.

There were no differences between the groups with respect to overall side effects.

“Gallopamil treatment for 12 months reduces BSM remodeling and prevents the occurrence of asthma exacerbations,” the authors concluded.