Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD.

Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD

Cincinnati Children’s played a major role in bringing about the November 2015 FDA approval of mepolizumab, the first new asthma drug in more than a decade.

The drug successfully targets severe asthma in people 12 years and older. The drug’s availability is a credit to institutions and researchers around the world who have been studying asthma for more than 30 years, says Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD, Director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology and the Cincinnati Center for Eosinophilic Disorders.

“A tremendous amount of work has been done not only by Cincinnati Children’s but also by many others,” he says.

Researchers found a pathway involving the protein interleukin 5, which fuels severe asthma caused by inflammatory cells called eosinophils. Mepolizumab inhibits interleukin 5 and blocks the production of eosinophils.

Besides identifying the molecular target for mepolizumab, Cincinnati Children’s also conducted clinical trials of its safety and efficacy, for patients with asthma as well as eosinophilic disorders such as eosinophilic esophagitis.