Asthma remains one of the most important challenges to pediatric public health in the US. A large majority of children with persistent and chronic asthma demonstrate aeroallergen sensitization, which remains a pivotal risk factor associated with the development of persistent, progressive asthma throughout life. In individuals with a tendency toward Type 2 inflammation, sensitization and exposure to high concentrations of offending allergens is associated with increased risk for development of, and impairment from, asthma. The cascade of biological responses to allergens is primarily mediated through IgE antibodies and their production is further stimulated by IgE responses to antigen exposure. In addition, circulating IgE impairs innate anti-viral immune responses. The latter effect could magnify the effects of another early life exposure associated with increased risk of the development of asthma – viral infections. Omalizumab binds to circulating IgE and thus ablates antigen signaling through IgE-related mechanisms. Further, it has been shown restore IFN-α response to rhinovirus and to reduce asthma exacerbations during the viral season. We therefore hypothesized that early blockade of IgE and IgE mediated responses with omalizumab would prevent the development and reduce the severity of asthma in those at high risk for developing asthma. Herein, we describe a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of omalizumab in 2–3 year old children at high risk for development of asthma to prevent the development and reduce the severity of asthma. We describe the rationale, methods, and lessons learned in implementing this potentially transformative trial aimed at prevention of asthma.
- Atopic march