• airway hyperresponsiveness;
  • anti-IL-5;
  • anti-TNF-α;
  • asthma;
  • cytokines;
  • exacerbations


Asthma is a common disease with an increasing prevalence worldwide. Up to 10% of these patients have asthma that is refractory to current therapy. This group have a disproportionate use of health care resources attributed to asthma, have significant morbidity and mortality and therefore represent an unmet clinical need. Asthma is a complex heterogeneous condition that is characterized by typical symptoms and disordered airway physiology set against a background of airway inflammation and remodelling. The inflammatory process underlying asthma is co-ordinated by a cytokine network. Modulating this network with biological therapy presents a new paradigm for asthma treatment. Clinical trials undertaken to date have underscored the complexity of the inflammatory profile and its relationship to the clinical features of the disease and have raised the importance of safety considerations related to these novel therapies. T helper type 2 cytokine blockade remains the most promising strategy, with anti-interleukin-5 reducing asthma exacerbations. Although anti-cytokine therapy is not yet ready for the clinic, the long-awaited possibility of new treatments for severe asthma is moving ever closer.