Managing Moderate to Severe Asthma in Adolescents

Benjamin Gaston, MD


March 11, 2021

"The eye of the hurricane" is how adolescent asthma is often described, according to Dr Benjamin Gaston, of Indiana University School of Medicine, given the disease is more prevalent in children but more severe in patients whose asthma continues on into adulthood.

In adolescence, increasingly severe disease may find itself on a collision course with nonadherence, which remains a challenge at this age. Because adolescents adapt easily to telemedicine and mobile apps, pandemic-related disruptions to in-person appointments may not be a barrier for this group and indeed may be beneficial.

The 2019 GINA and 2020 NHLBI guidelines offer promising new approaches, including use of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) with formoterol at the onset of symptoms. ICS with formoterol as rescue and long-acting monoclonal antibody injections have proven effective for some adolescents but are no substitute for daily prevention therapy, an important standard of care.

Obstacles remain, including the high cost of both ICS-formoterol and the new biologics, as well as the inconvenient packaging of formoterol, which is not included in most ICS-LABA combinations on the market.

Studies such as the NHLBI PrecISE trial are investigating predictive biomarkers that could lead to highly individualized treatments for adolescent patients with this heterogeneous disease.


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