New hope for asthmatics with arthritis drug

MILLIONS of asthma patients worldwide could benefit from research into how an arthritis drug could be used to treat the respiratory condition.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute researcher Dr Manuel Ferreira is also looking at alternative ways for asthmatics to receive this medication through a nebuliser rather than needles.

Science and Innovation Minister Ian Walker said asthma affected about one in 10 Australians and Dr Ferreira's ground-breaking work could significantly reduce the number and severity of asthma attacks.

"Dr Ferreira was awarded $360,000 from the Queensland Government and since starting his research he has demonstrated that the arthritis drug Tocilizumab can prevent and reduce asthma in animals," he said.

"This is potentially life-saving work.

"He's about to start clinical trials of the drug with 16 asthma patients and we'll be very interested to see the results of that work.

"It's crucial to have people with the talent of Dr Ferreira conducting their research here in Queensland as a reminder to the rest of the scientific community that, not only are we open for business but we have world-class facilities and are a place that attracts some of the best and brightest researchers."