New option for control of severe asthma, lung microbiome and transplant and more

Highlights from the American Thoracic Society 2022 Conference from Michigan Medicine researchers.

5:00 AM

Author | Kelly Malcom

lungs drawing yellow blue lab note
Michigan Medicine

Research from the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine was featured prominently at the recent conference of the American Thoracic Society, the leading medical society focused on global respiratory health. Here are a few highlights:

New treatment for severe asthma

A greater proportion of patients with severe, uncontrolled asthma had more significant clinical responses to a drug called Tezepelumab, a human monoclonal antibody therapy, than placebo, according to research published at the ATS 2022 international conference last month. The study showed that nearly half of those enrolled showed fewer exacerbations ("asthma attack"), control of their asthma and improved lung function.

"Across each measure, tezepelumab recipients were more likely to have a response; the greatest difference observed was for exacerbation reduction. In addition, 48 percent of patients receiving tezepelumab had a complete response and achieved significant and clinically relevant improvements in all four response measures," said presenting author Njira Lugogo, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine and director of the Asthma Program in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

Use of digital inhalers

There is increasing evidence that over reliance on short acting beta agonists, also referred to as SABA, is associated with increased risks of asthma exacerbations and mortality. And while clinicians are encouraged to minimize use of SABA, there are no clear guidelines on safe SABA thresholds and ways to identify SABA over-reliance.

A survey of clinical experts developed a consensus that the use of more than 3 canisters of SABA in a 12-month period could be considered a threshold before warranting clinical intervention. In a study, Lugogo and her team applied this threshold to a dataset obtained from a 12-week prospective open label trial in patients with uncontrolled asthma that were using an albuterol digital inhaler.

They identified the prevalence of SABA inhaler use above the safe threshold and calculated the positive and negative thresholds based on the presence of exacerbations in those that did and did not exceed 138 inhalations in the 12-week study period. The number needed to identify one patient that is at risk for an exacerbation was 5 patients. "Digital inhalers offer new ways to identify at risk patients and this novel technology could advance our ability to accurately risk stratify patients with asthma," Lugogo said.

Lung microbiome and transplant rejection

In another study presented at the meeting, Michael Combs, M.D., a clinical lecturer with the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and his team found that once lung transplant patients develop rejection, their lung microbiome predicts their mortality. In addition, they found that whether these patients do or do not benefit clinically from an antibiotic called azithromycin, a common therapy for transplant rejection, depends on their lung microbiota. The study suggests that the lung microbiome may be an overlooked treatment target for lung transplant rejection and other lung diseases.

More Articles About: Lab Notes Basic Science and Laboratory Research Asthma Lung Function Wellness and Prevention All Research Topics
Health Lab word mark overlaying blue cells
Health Lab

Explore a variety of healthcare news & stories by visiting the Health Lab home page for more articles.

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]


Stay Informed

Want top health & research news weekly? Sign up for Health Lab’s newsletters today!

Featured News & Stories cells colorful
Health Lab
Improvements in human genome databases offer a promising future for cancer research
A gene sequencing method called ribosome profiling has expanded our understanding of the human genome by identifying previously unknown protein coding regions. Also known as Ribo-seq, this method allows researchers to get a high-resolution snapshot of protein production in cells.
kids on the floor
Health Lab
Protecting children from poor air quality: 6 things to know
As smoke from Canada's historic wildfires triggers poor air quality alerts across the country, many parents worry about the impact on their child’s health, a national poll suggests. Here, a Michigan Medicine expert provides six ways to help reduce exposure.
flies moving sled in snow with person
Health Lab
Gene links exercise endurance, cold tolerance and cellular maintenance in flies
A study in PNAS identifies a protein that, when missing, makes exercising in the cold that much harder—that is, at least in fruit flies.
bacteria black background yellow cell
Health Lab
The surprising origin of a deadly hospital infection
Surprising findings from a Michigan Medicine study in Nature Medicine suggest that the burden of C. diff infection may be less a matter of hospital transmission and more a result of characteristics associated with the patients themselves.
cancer cell
Health Lab
Language barriers in cancer care
Research from experts at Michigan Medicine shows that significant language-based disparities exist in patients’ access to cancer care services, and it’s well before their first appointment with a doctor. 
Health Lab
Genetic mutation linked to adrenal tumor and hypertension
Research from the Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology at Michigan Medicine identifies a previously unknown genetic mutation that causes the disease called primary aldosteronism in certain populations.