Biologics to Treat Severe Asthma in Children and Adolescents: A Practical Update

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Background: Severe asthma represents a significant challenge for children and adolescents. At the same time, it often places a burden on patients, caregivers, and society, mainly related to morbidity, mortality, and health care resources. In children and adolescents, severe asthma is mostly characterized by type 2 inflammation, which leads to bronchial eosinophilia that may be suppressed by corticosteroids. However, in this age group, a high dosage of inhaled corticosteroids combined with systemic corticosteroids sometimes results in unacceptable side effects, such as reduced growth velocity and reduced bone mineral density. Therefore, there is increasing and enthusiastic interest in today's biologics, including omalizumab, mepolizumab, reslizumab, benralizumab, and dupilumab. There is growing evidence that they may be effective and safe add-on options for children and adolescents. In 2009, omalizumab was approved by the European Medicines Agency as the first available therapeutic option for allergic asthma in patients as young as 6 years of age, followed by a similar approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2016. Previously, omalizumab was marketed for this indication in patients ≥ age 12. Subsequent biologics, namely mepolizumab, reslizumab, and benralizumab, are IL-5 targeted agents that are presently approved in some countries for severe eosinophilic asthma starting at 6 years of age. Dupilumab is targeted against the IL-4 receptor α-chain, and it has been approved in the United States and the European Union as an add-on maintenance therapy in patients ≥12 years of age. Conclusion: This review presents the most recent evidence on approved biologics for the treatment of severe asthma and discusses the unmet needs and future perspective, focusing on the pediatric and adolescent age groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-176
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric, Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • adolescents
  • allergy
  • biologics
  • children
  • eosinophils
  • severe asthma
  • type 2 inflammation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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