One of the things we are particularly proud of is the ability to bring exciting new treatments under development to our patients and our community. An especially exciting area of research is chronic cough, which is a devastating condition that is a constant source of irritation and distraction for many people. Patients with chronic cough often cough 30-60 times an hour while awake, and some people even continue to cough in their sleep. The coughing disturbs not only their own sleep but also the sleep of those around them. Unfortunately, the only effective way we have to help these people is with narcotic cough suppressants, but this comes with difficulties such as drowsiness and dependence on the medication.
Over the past 20 years, work done in England and Massachusetts has made great strides in understanding how the cough reflex works. Once the reflex is understood, we can find out points along the reflex path where we might be able to stop it. Our research department has participated in three clinical trials that interrupt the reflex in the brain. Two of these studies of what are known as “NK-1 receptor blockers,” and the other one was a “neuronal nicotinic receptor agonist,” or NNRA. Unfortunately, the NNRA didn’t work, but further research is being done with the NK-1 receptor blockers.
A very promising area of research involves what is known as “P2X3 receptor blockers.” These medications reduce the sensitivity of the cough receptors located in the throat and prevent the cough reflex from starting in the first place. We have participated in four clinical trials with two different companies with this type of potential treatment over the past several years. One of these medications is getting close to the point of being submitted to the FDA for approval.
Dr. Steven is nationally known for his work in chronic cough, and he has recently been asked to participate as a principal investigator in what will be our fifth study of a P2X3 receptor blocker. This new trial will be conducted by Shionogi & Company, Limited. Shionogi is a Japanese pharmaceutical company with a P2X3 receptor blocker that promises to be at least as good, and probably better than the other P2X3 receptor blockers under development. Last month, Dr. Steven traveled to the Investigator Meeting in Fort Lauderdale to learn more about this drug, how this study will work, and to participate in discussing ways we can help make this study a success. Dr. Steven was particularly pleased to hear that Shionogi is making this a multinational study to see how their drug works in people of different nationalities and ethnicities.
If you or someone you know suffers from chronic cough, we encourage you to learn more about how patients can benefit from Dr. Steven’s expertise in the area of chronic cough. Also, check out how our research division helps bring important new treatments like these to market to improve the quality of life for everybody suffering from these diseases.