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Children who were small in the womb are more likely to be asthmatic a second study showed These findings suggest that antenatal factors contribute to life-long respiratory wellbeingDr Stephen Turner Patients with severe, uncontrolled asthma have very few treatment options once they are already taking high-dose inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists The drug is an antibody – a special protein in the immune system which latches on to foreign invaders, flagging them up to garbage-disposal cells. In this case, the antibody targets the rogue immune cells, called eosinophils, which trigger asthma attacks.“Patients with severe, uncontrolled asthma have very few treatment options once they are already taking high-dose inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists,” said Professor Eugene Bleecker, Centre for Genomics and Personalised Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, who led one of the trials.“Benralizumab depletes eosinophils directly, and our studies show that eosinophil counts were nearly completely depleted by week four of treatment.”Prof Mark FitzGerald, of the University of British Columbia, in Canada, who led the second trial added: “Additional therapeutic options to control severe asthma are urgently neededThe findings are published in The Lancet medical journal and were presented at the European Respiratory Society’s annual meeting in London. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. “We hope that our findings can aid clinicians identifying asthma risks in different individuals. By understanding which individuals are at risk of developing more severe asthma, we can encourage lifestyle changes that can help reduce this risk.”A third study by the University of Aberdeen found that babies who were small in the womb were also more likely to develop asthma in childhood.“These findings suggest that antenatal factors contribute to life-long respiratory wellbeing,” said Dr Stephen Turner, of the University of Aberdeen.“Ultimately, any intervention is going to boil down to mothers not smoking or drinking, having a balanced diet and taking regular exercise – but this is good incentive for a healthy maternal lifestyle.”Dr Erika Kennington, Asthma UK’s Head of Research, said: “Research like this is starting to show that experiences in childhood could have an impact on your asthma in later life, but there is still so much about this we don’t yet know.“Greater investment in research is needed to discover why some people develop asthma while others don’t so we can help them to reduce that risk.” The meeting also heard how maintaining a healthy weight as a child can prevent asthma as an adult.Scientists in Denmark compared the Body Mass Index scores of 300,000 schoolchildren aged between seven and 13 to see if it had an impact on asthma when they became adults.They found that being overweight increased the chance of a woman being admitted to hospital for a severe asthma attack by 39 per cent. In contrast, for men being underweight was the biggest risk factor, raising the chance of a hospital admission by 25 per cent.Professor Charlotte Suppli Ulrik, lead author from the Hvidovre Hospital and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, said: “Our findings present an intriguing look at the differences we see between men and women when we identify predictors of asthma among children.“This could be due to a range of factors including levels of physical activity, lung mechanics and different environmental factors. A new asthma drug which can half the chance of suffering a severe attack could prevent hundreds of deaths a year.Monthly injections of benralizumab were found to reduce episodes of serious shortness of breath, wheezing and chest tightness by up to 51 per cent.Approximately quarter of a million people in Britain suffer from severe asthma and every 10 seconds someone suffers a serious attack. Around 1,200 people a year die from the condition.But two trials on more than 2,500 patients showed that the benralizumab could offer new hope for people whose asthma can no longer be controlled by steroid inhalers and other drugs.