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Unmet need in severe, uncontrolled asthma: can anti-TSLP therapy with tezepelumab provide a valuable new treatment option?

  • Menzies-Gow, Andrew1
  • Wechsler, Michael E.2
  • Brightling, Chris E.3
  • 1 Royal Brompton Hospital, Sydney Street, London, SW3 6NP, UK , London (United Kingdom)
  • 2 National Jewish Health, Denver, CO, USA , Denver (United States)
  • 3 University of Leicester, Leicester, UK , Leicester (United Kingdom)
Published Article
Respiratory Research
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Oct 15, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s12931-020-01505-x
Springer Nature


Despite treatment with standard-of-care medications, including currently available biologic therapies, many patients with severe asthma have uncontrolled disease, which is associated with a high risk of hospitalization and high healthcare costs. Biologic therapies approved for severe asthma have indications limited to patients with either eosinophilic or allergic phenotypes; there are currently no approved biologics for patients with eosinophil-low asthma. Furthermore, existing biologic treatments decrease exacerbation rates by approximately 50% only, which may be because they target individual, downstream elements of the asthma inflammatory response, leaving other components untreated. Targeting an upstream mediator of the inflammatory response may have a broader effect on airway inflammation and provide more effective asthma control. One such potential target is thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), an epithelial-derived cytokine released in response to multiple triggers associated with asthma exacerbations, such as viruses, allergens, pollutants and other airborne irritants. Mechanistic studies indicate that TSLP drives eosinophilic (including allergic) inflammation, neutrophilic inflammation and structural changes to the airway in asthma through actions on a wide variety of adaptive and innate immune cells and structural cells. Tezepelumab is a first-in-class human monoclonal antibody that blocks the activity of TSLP. In the phase 2b PATHWAY study (NCT02054130), tezepelumab reduced asthma exacerbations by up to 71% compared with placebo in patients with severe, uncontrolled asthma across the spectrum of inflammatory phenotypes, and improved lung function and asthma control. Phase 3 trials of tezepelumab are underway. NAVIGATOR (NCT03347279), a pivotal exacerbation study, aims to assess the potential efficacy of tezepelumab further in patients with a broad range of severe asthma phenotypes, including those with low blood eosinophil counts. SOURCE (NCT03406078) aims to evaluate the oral corticosteroid-sparing potential of tezepelumab. DESTINATION (NCT03706079) is a long-term extension study. In addition, an ongoing phase 2 bronchoscopy study, CASCADE (NCT03688074), aims to evaluate the effect of tezepelumab on airway inflammation and airway remodelling in patients across the spectrum of type 2 airway inflammation. Here, we summarize the unmet therapeutic need in severe asthma and the current treatment landscape, discuss the rationale for targeting TSLP in severe asthma therapy and describe the current development status of tezepelumab.

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