Clinical investigators at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) are initiating a clinical trial of potentially promising new way to treat asthma:
Interventional pulmonologists will explore, for the first time in the United States, a new way to treat asthma. Physicians will actually go into the airways with a bronchoscope, which is a routine procedure, and by generating and applying thermal energy, will reduce areas of underlying smooth muscle in the small to medium size airways with a new medical device. The Alair® System – which is manufactured by Asthmatx, Inc. – consists of a single-use device and a controller that delivers thermal energy to the bronchial wall during an outpatient bronchoscopic procedure known as Bronchial Thermoplasty™.
The system, which has an expandable wire basket at the tip, consists of four arms that come in contact with and fit snugly against the airway wall. The expanded basket then delivers controlled radio frequency energy for about 10 seconds to heat the airway smooth muscle. Once the treatment session is completed, the device and the bronchoscope are removed. The controlled heat is designed to reduce the amount of airway smooth muscle in the airway wall, thus reducing the ability of the airway walls to contract and narrow and spasm in response to irritation, infection or inflammation.
“This is a minimally invasive procedure performed in a bronchoscopy suite,” says Maureen George, PhD, RN, AE-C, Coordinator, Comprehensive Asthma Care Program in the Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Division at HUP. “The procedure itself takes only about an hour to complete and no general anesthesia is used. This is done on an outpatient basis as a bronchoscopic procedure, with conscious sedation (in which a tube is placed through the mouth or nose and positioned into the lungs). There is no incision and no need to stay overnight.”