New drug could reduce symptoms of chronic cough

In two new studies, researchers found that a new drug at low doses can ease the often distressing symptoms of chronic cough with minimal side effects.

Higher doses can reduce the sense of taste, though at 50mg, the effect is much reduced.

The findings show the drug Gefapixant has the potential to have a significant impact on the lives of thousands of suffers.

The research was conducted by a team at The University of Manchester.

Chronic coughing is thought to affect between 4 and 10% of the population, some of whom cough thousands a time a day over many years.

While many patients improve with treatment of associated conditions such as asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and nasal disease, many do not.

The condition can cause abdominal pain, urinary incontinence in women, as well as anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping.

The first study shows that in a 12-week trial of 253 patients- the largest of its kind- 80% of patients had a clinical response to a dose of 50mg.

A dose of 7.5mg reduced the coughing by 52%, 20mg by 52% and 50mg by 67% from baseline. Around a quarter did not respond to the drug.

And the second 16-day study of 57 patients showed that as little as 30mg of the drug could be effective—much lower than previously thought.

The drug is now in two larger global phases 3 trials, carried out to confirm and expand on the safety and effectiveness results from the previous research.

The team says the drug Gefapixant is able to target P2X3receptors in the nerves which control coughing and the team monitored the impact of the drug using a special cough monitoring device they developed which counts coughs.

The drug was initially developed as a pain killer until the researchers discovered it had a significant impact on chronic cough.

Some unlicensed drugs have also been shown to improve chronic cough, but their use is limited by unpleasant side effects.

The lead author of the study is Jacky Smith, a Professor of Respiratory Medicine at The University of Manchester.

The findings are published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine and the European Respiratory Journal.

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