Precision medicine in asthma: linking phenotypes to targeted treatments

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Asthma is a heterogeneous disease consisting of different phenotypes that are driven by different mechanistic pathways. The purpose of this review is to emphasize the important role of precision medicine in asthma management.

Recent findings

Despite asthma heterogeneity, the approach to management has been on the basis of disease severity, with the most severe patients reserved for the maximum treatments with corticosteroids and bronchodilators. At the severe end, the recent availability of biologic therapies in the form of anti-IgE (omalizumab) and anti-IL5 therapies (mepolizumab and reslizumab) has driven the adaptation of precision medicine. These therapies are reserved for severe asthma with defined either allergic or eosinophilic background, respectively.

Summary

Unbiased definition of phenotypes or endotypes (which are phenotypes defined by mechanisms) is an important step towards the use of precision medicine in asthma. Although T2-high asthma has been defined with targets becoming available for treating allergic or eosinophilic asthma, the definition of non-T2 phenotypes remains a priority. Precision medicine is also dependent on the definition of biomarkers that can help differentiate between these phenotypes and pinpoint patients suitable for specific-targeted therapies. Thus, precision medicine links phenotypes (endotypes) to targeted treatments for better outcomes.

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