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MUHC study tests innovative new asthma treatment

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Published: 24 Jul 2006

A revolutionary new treatment for asthma is showing great promise in a multi-centre clinical trial involving MUHC researchers.

A revolutionary new treatment for asthma is showing great promise in a multi-centre clinical trial involving MUHC researchers. The project, called AIR2 (Asthma Interventional Research), involves treating the airway of the lung with thermal energy—a procedure known as bronchial thermoplasty. Initial trials have provided outstanding results, and a second round of tests will now be conducted at the Montreal Chest Institute of the MUHC.

"Bronchial thermoplasty involves the direct treatment of the lung airway with thermal energy," says Dr. Ronald Olivenstein, Asthma Clinic Director and Medical Director of the Montreal Chest Institute, assistant professor of medicine at McGill University, and Principal Investigator of the AIR2 trial at the Montreal Chest Institute. The routine procedure reduces the airway smooth muscle responsible for airway constriction in asthma sufferers. "Less airway smooth muscle means reduced severity and frequency of symptoms for asthma sufferers," notes Dr. Olivenstein.

Currently, medication is the only treatment available to asthma sufferers. "We are very excited to be testing a new approach that could significantly improve the treatment of moderate to severe asthma," says Dr. Olivenstein. "No general anesthesia is used in this treatment, no incisions are necessary, and no overnight stay is required. This is an out-patient procedure that only takes about an hour to complete."

Although researchers are careful to point out that there is no expectation this new procedure will cure asthma, results so far have exceeded expectations in reducing the severity and frequency of asthma symptoms and improving the quality of life of the patients treated in the initial trials.

Asthma is a common disease in which the airways in the lung become inflamed in response to an asthma trigger, such as an allergen or irritant. Excess mucus is produced, causing the muscles in the airway walls to contract and narrow, and leading to breathing difficulties. Asthma affects over 2.7 million Canadians and causes over 500 deaths each year in Canada.

If you have asthma, are between 18 and 65 years of age, do not smoke, and take daily medication to control your asthma, you may be eligible to participate in this study. For more information on the AIR2 study please visit www.air2trial.com, or call the Montreal Chest Institute of the MUHC at 514-934-1934 ext. 32601. This study is sponsored by Asthmatx and is being conducted at other sites in the Canada, US, Brazil, Australia and the UK. Dr. Ronald Olivenstein has no financial interest in Asthmatx.

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and health care hospital research centre. Located in Montreal, Quebec, the institute is the research arm of the MUHC, a university health centre affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. The institute supports over 500 researchers, nearly 1,000 graduate and postdoctoral students, and operates more than 300 laboratories devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. The Research Institute operates at the forefront of knowledge, innovation and technology and is inextricably linked to the clinical programs of the MUHC, ensuring that patients benefit directly from the latest research-based knowledge. For further details visit: www.muhc.ca/research.

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University—the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.

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Contact: Ian Popple
Organization: MUHC Public Relations and Communications
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