An inhaler used to treat asthma attacks may not be as effective as thought for some children with the condition.
Researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School have discovered the treatment could even make the illness worse for youngsters with a particular type of gene change.
It involves using traditional asthma medicines like salmeterol and salbutamol, which are added on to inhaled steroids.
Researchers believe some children may respond better to an alternative anti-inflammatory asthma medicine instead.
The medical school is planning new trials this autumn which experts believe will provide further evidence to support the idea of providing personalised medicine to improve treatment instead.
Professor Somnath Mukhopadhyay from the medical school’s paediatrics team is heading the research.
He said: “Both asthma reliever and controller medicines may not work well in a proportion of children because the child’s genetic make-up makes the medicine less effective.
“A simple test can determine whether a child carries the gene change and identify those who might benefit from a switch to an alternative, more effective medicine.”
Prof Mukhopadhyay said parents and health professionals should be made more aware of the possible risks to children who carry the gene change.
His concerns have been supported by data released this week and funded by the charity Haydn’s Wish.
The charity, named after nine-year-old asthma sufferer Haydn Wileman, who died from an allergy, said the data showed many parents of children with asthma felt the inhaler did not work well.
Haydn’s motherEmmasaid: “Some children with asthma appear to be suffering more because they are not responding to reliever medicine.
“We believe parents need to be made more aware of this and there should be more research as a matter of urgency.”
GPs, hospital doctors and asthma nurses will work with parents around the country as part of the research.
The £200,000 trial is funded by Action Medical Research.
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