Last updated on September 29th, 2023 at 10:12 am
ABPA (Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis) is a serious allergic disease caused by a fungal infection of the airways. People with ABPA usually have severe asthma and frequent flare-ups that often require long-term use of oral steroids and antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections.
The two main treatments for ABPA are antifungal medication and oral steroids. Antifungal medication work by targeting the fungi causing the infection, limiting its growth and spread. This can help reduce the frequency of flare-ups and stabilize the condition but may also cause side effects such as nausea and, more rarely, liver damage. Oral steroids work by reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system’s response to the allergen, which can help control the symptoms of ABPA. However, long-term use can cause significant side effects, including weight gain, mood swings, and adrenal insufficiency.
These side effects can greatly impact quality of life, but both treatments may be necessary to prevent the disease from worsening. Therefore, new or improved treatments are needed.
Fortunately, there have been recent developments in managing ABPA, and a review by Richard Moss (2023) highlights two promising types of treatment:
- Inhaled antifungal medication treat fungal lung infections by delivering the drug directly to the site of infection. This allows for a higher concentration of the drug to be delivered to the affected area while limiting the exposure of the rest of the body and therefore reduces side effects. For instance, inhaled itraconazole has been shown to reach concentrations high enough to kill or inhibit fungus growth. Further trials will be completed this year (2023) to assess its safety and effectiveness. Although still in development, these drugs offer hope for more effective and better-tolerated treatment options for patients with ABPA.
- Biologic medication is a completely new type of treatment that uses synthetic antibodies to target specific cells or proteins of our immune system instead of using a chemical compound. Omalizumab, a type of biologic, binds to immunoglobulin IgE and deactivates it. IgE is involved in the allergic response our bodies launch against foreign invaders and plays a big role in ABPA symptoms. Deactivation of IgE has been shown to reduce allergic symptoms. In clinical trials omalizumab has been shown to significantly (a) reduced the number of flare-ups compared to pre-treatment, (b) reduced the need for oral steroid use and lowered its necessary dose, (c) increased wean off steroids, (d) improved lung function and (e) improved asthma control. Additionally, other Monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) such as mepolizumab, benralizumab, and dupilumab have shown a reduction in flare-ups, total IgE and a steroid-sparing effect.
According to Moss (2023), these new treatment approaches are highly effective in reducing hospital visits. Biologics seem highly effective, with up to a 90% reduction in flare-ups for ABPA patients and up to 98% efficacy in reducing the amount of oral steroid needed by the patient. If these new treatments continue to work well, it could potentially offer a new, higher quality of life for individuals with ABPA . Overall, these findings are promising, but further research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of these treatments specifically for ABPA.
Original paper: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9861760/