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Safety of Eosinophil-Depleting Therapy for Severe, Eosinophilic Asthma: Focus on Benralizumab

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

David J. Jackson, Stephanie Korn, Sameer K. Mathur, Peter Barker, Venkata G. Meka, Ubaldo J. Martin, James G. Zangrilli

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-425
Number of pages17
JournalDrug Safety
Issue number5
Published1 May 2020

King's Authors


Eosinophils play a pivotal role in the inflammatory pathology of asthma and have been the target of new biologic treatments for patients with eosinophilic asthma. Given the central role of interleukin (IL)-5 in the eosinophil lifecycle, several therapies directed against the IL-5 pathway have been developed, including the anti-IL-5 antibodies mepolizumab and reslizumab and the IL-5 receptor α (IL-5Rα)–directed cytolytic antibody benralizumab. Eosinophil-depleting therapies represent a relatively new class of asthma treatment, and it is important to understand their long-term efficacy and safety. Eosinophils have been associated with host protection and tumor growth, raising potential concerns about the consequences of long-term therapies that deplete eosinophils. However, evidence for these associations in humans is conflicting and largely indirect or based on mouse models. Substantial prospective clinical trial and postmarketing data have accrued, providing insight into the potential risks associated with eosinophil depletion. In this review, we explore the current safety profile of eosinophil-reducing therapies, with particular attention to the potential risks of malignancies and severe infections and a focus on benralizumab. Benralizumab is an IL-5Rα–directed cytolytic monoclonal antibody that targets and efficiently depletes blood and tissue eosinophils through antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Benralizumab is intended to treat patients with severe, uncontrolled asthma with eosinophilic inflammation. The integrated analyses of benralizumab safety data from the phase III SIROCCO and CALIMA trials and subsequent BORA extension trial for patients with asthma, and the phase III GALATHEA and TERRANOVA trials for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, form the principal basis for this review.

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