New treatments for severe asthma may include biologics, surgical techniques, and leukotriene modifiers, among others. Researchers are still searching for new drugs to prevent and relieve asthma.

Asthma is a disease that causes the airways to swell up and tighten, making it hard to catch your breath. It isn’t curable, but it is manageable. Today’s treatments are more effective than ever at preventing asthma attacks and stopping symptoms if they do start.

Still, 17% of asthma cases are labeled as difficult to treat. This means they don’t respond to standard treatments, like inhaled corticosteroids.

For those with severe symptoms, a new generation of therapies and other treatments on the horizon might finally offer some relief.

Symptoms can be more severe in some people and less severe in others. You might only have symptoms at certain times, like when you exercise. You could also have frequent asthma attacks that affect your quality of life.

Asthma treatment involves a three-part strategy:

  • using long-term management medications to prevent symptoms before they start
  • using quick-relief medications to stop acute asthma attacks
  • avoiding triggers to reduce the number of attacks

The main treatment for severe asthma is taking long-term management medications that help prevent asthma symptoms. These include:

  • inhaled corticosteroids
  • inhaled long-acting beta-agonists
  • inhaled long-acting anticholinergics
  • leukotriene modifiers
  • cromolyn sodium (Intal)
  • theophylline (Theochron)

You can then take quick-relief medications to relieve symptoms when you have an asthma attack. These include:

  • inhaled short-acting beta-agonists
  • oral corticosteroids
  • inhaled short-acting anticholinergics
  • a combination of both of the above

A few newer treatments have made severe asthma easier to manage. That said, you may need to take higher doses of medications or use more than one medication. You and your doctor can create an asthma management plan to personalize your treatment strategy based on your symptoms and disease severity.

Biologic drugs work with your immune system to treat asthma. They block the activity of immune system chemicals that make your airways swell up. These drugs can help prevent asthma attacks and make the attacks you do have more mild.

Six monoclonal antibodies are currently approved to treat severe asthma:

  • reslizumab (Cinqair)
  • mepolizumab (Nucala)
  • omalizumab (Xolair)
  • benralizumab (Fasenra)
  • dupilumab (Dupixent)
  • tezepelumab-ekko (Tezspire)

Omalizumab treats severe asthma that’s triggered by allergies. Mepolizumab, reslizumab, and benralizumab treat severe asthma caused by a type of white blood cell called an eosinophil (eosinophilic asthma). You take these drugs by injection or an IV inserted into a vein.

Dupilumab is an add-on maintenance treatment currently approved for patients between the ages of 6–11. This treatment is given through injection.

Tezepelumab is used as an add-on maintenance treatment for patients 12 and older. It’s the first treatment not limited by the type of severe asthma. This treatment is also given through injection.

This inhaled medication has been used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for more than a decade. In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved it for the treatment of asthma.

Research suggests that tiotropium can help improve lung function, decrease the chance of worsening asthma symptoms, and slow the progression of the condition when added to other treatments.

One group of asthma drugs works by blocking the action of leukotriene. This chemical tightens and narrows your airways during an allergy-induced asthma attack.

Three leukotriene modifiers are approved to treat asthma:

  • montelukast (Singulair)
  • zafirlukast (Accolate)
  • zileuton (Zyflo)

You take these medications by mouth to prevent or treat asthma attacks.

Bronchial thermoplasty is a surgical technique used for severe asthma that hasn’t improved with other treatments.

During this technique, radiofrequency energy is applied to the airway. The heat that’s generated destroys some of the smooth muscle lining the airway. This prevents the muscle from constricting and narrowing the opening.

Bronchial thermoplasty is delivered in three sessions, each given 3 weeks apart. Even though it isn’t a cure for asthma, 2018 research shows it does reduce symptoms.

Researchers are still searching for new drugs that will be able to prevent and relieve asthma symptoms.

A 2021 review suggests adding long-acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMAs) to inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-2-agonists could lead to fewer severe asthma attacks and modest improvement in asthma management.

Other studies are investigating the factors that play a role in asthma development, such as calcium-sensing receptors (CaSRs). Identifying the triggers that set off asthma symptoms could one day enable researchers to stop those processes and prevent asthma before it starts.

What is the newest inhaler for asthma?

In 2023, the FDA approved Airsupra (albuterol and budesonide) inhalation aerosol for preventing bronchial spasms and reducing the chance of asthma attacks in people over age 18.

What is the newest treatment for asthma?

Newer treatments for asthma include things like single maintenance and reliever therapy (SMART) and long-acting muscarinic antagonists (LAMAs).

Is there a list of the top asthma inhaler brands?

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has a database of all available asthma medications, including inhalers.

Asthma is a disease that causes the airways to swell up and tighten, making it hard to breathe. There’s currently no cure for asthma, but there are treatment options that can help reduce its symptoms.

If you have severe symptoms, you may require multiple treatment options for your asthma. Talk with your doctor about which options are best for you.