Asthma treatments tailored to the genes of kids and teens could help improve control of their symptoms, new research suggests.
The study included 241 adolescents, aged 12 to 18, who were randomly selected to receive either traditional asthma treatment or "personalized medicine" — treatment based on their individual genetics.
During a year of follow-up, those in the personalized medicine group who had a genetic difference in a receptor gene targeted by asthma treatments reported a better quality-of-life score. The score was based on their symptoms, whether their normal activities were limited by their asthma, and how their asthma made them feel.
While more research is needed, the findings suggest personalized treatment could better control asthma in young people, according to the researchers.
The study — the first of its kind in children and teens — was presented recently at a virtual meeting of the European Respiratory Society. Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
"These results are very promising because they show, for the first time, that it could be beneficial to test for certain genetic differences in children with asthma and select medication according to those differences," said study leader Somnath Mukhopadhyay. He is chair of pediatrics at Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital, Brighton and Sussex Medical School in East Sussex, U.K.
The approach is an important goal for respiratory research, said Christopher Brightling, chair of the European Respiratory Society Science Council, who reviewed the findings.
"In this study, researchers used genetic information that we know is linked to how well patients respond to some inhaler treatments. They found that making use of this genetic information improved the outcome for children with asthma," Brightling said in a European Respiratory Society news release.
Asthma is a common condition in children that causes coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing. About 5.5 million children under 18 in the United States have asthma, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.