Overlapping Effects of New Monoclonal Antibodies for Severe Asthma

Christian Domingo
Drugs 2017, 77 (16): 1769-1787
Among the monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) developed for severe asthma treatment, three have already been marketed. Omalizumab was the first, more than 10 years ago; today, mepolizumab and reslizumab are also available in the European Union and the US. Omalizumab blocks free immunoglobulin E (IgE), mepolizumab and reslizumab block an interleukin (IL-5). In the near future, dupilumab and benralizumab are expected to emerge as two new alternatives. Benralizumab blocks the receptor for IL-5 (IL5-Rα) and has a direct cytotoxic effect on eosinophils, and dupilumab blocks the α-unit of the heterodimeric receptor for IL-4 and IL-13 (IL-4Rα); as a result, dupilumab can block both IL-4 and IL-13. The purpose of this manuscript is to present the pathophysiology of some immunological aspects of severe asthma, describe the adaptive and innate immunity arms as well as their interrelations (stressing the subordination of the adaptive arm to the innate arm), outline the pharmacologic effects of these mAbs, clarify the overlapping effects of the different mAbs, and discuss the differences between mAbs based on their target molecules. Based on the data presented, I propose omalizumab for patients with an allergic phenotype regardless of their peripheral eosinophilic count, and anti-IL-5 as an alternative in allergic patients with blood eosinophilia in which omalizumab has failed; anti-IL5 for patients with an eosinophilic phenotype and omalizumab as an alternative in patients in whom anti-IL5 fails and IgE ≥30 IU/mL (compassionate use). Omalizumab is also proposed for patients with severe chronic asthma allergic to seasonal allergens.

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