Research has revolutionised the lives of people with asthma


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Aussie researchers develop world first asthma vaccine

We are particularly proud to be supporting and partnering with a world-first clinical trial using a vaccine to treat asthma.

What is the research project?

Professor Phil Hansbro and Professor Peter Gibson are respiratory researchers from the Hunter Medical Research Institute in Newcastle. They are currently undertaking ground breaking research, testing whether already available vaccines used to prevent serious bacterial infections like pneumonia (prevenar and pneumovax) are effective in preventing and treating asthma.

A key characteristic of asthma is airway inflammation. Inflammation can be caused by a number of inflammatory cells, however at least 50% of people with asthma experience a type of inflammation called eosinophilia. Eosinophils are white blood cells that defend the body against parasites but also accumulate when allergic reactions take place, including in allergic asthma.

In the course of this study they’ve found that the vaccine prevenar may also treat asthma that is caused by this eosinophilic inflammation.

The vaccine is a completely new approach in treating asthma, which causes over 400 deaths in Australia each year.

Why is this of interest and benefit to people with asthma?

If successful, this trial could potentially offer a new treatment for people with asthma. Current asthma treatment relies on the daily use of inhaled corticosteroids (preventers) to manage the condition. However, despite the availability and use of effective preventer treatment, some people still have poor asthma control and experience severe asthma flare-ups. A targeted asthma treatment such as this will ultimately result in better asthma control and outcomes for people with asthma.   

It would also become a world-first vaccine treatment for asthma, with the potential to reduce the use of inhalers, which require consistent use and correct inhaler technique for them to be effective.

What’s the latest in this study?

Professors Phil and Peter have begun investigations to measure how the vaccines might benefit people with asthma. These investigations measure a particular cell called the T Regulatory Cells, which control eosinophilic inflammation. To date, fourteen people with asthma have been accepted into the study and will receive one of the pneumonia vaccines.

Would you like to be involved?

If you have asthma and live in the Hunter or Central Coast region and would like to be involved in the vaccine trials, please contact Catherine Delahunty, 02 40420135 or

If you’d like to learn more about or make a donation to Asthma Australia’s research program, contact your local Asthma Foundation on 1800 ASTHMA (1800 278 462). 

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