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Asthma drug effective against cold-induced hives in small study

Omalizumab has been shown to be an effective treatment for inducible urticaria, or hives, from cold or friction.

By Amy Wallace
A drug used to treat asthma may be effective in treating cold induced urticaria, or allergic hives. Photo by <a class="tpstyle" href="https://pixabay.com/en/schnakenstiche-stitches-itching-59775/">Hans/PixaBay</a>
A drug used to treat asthma may be effective in treating cold induced urticaria, or allergic hives. Photo by Hans/PixaBay

April 7 (UPI) -- Researchers at Charite University in Berlin found in a recent study that a drug used to treat asthma may be effective at treating the skin condition cold urticaria, or cold-induced hives.

Cold urticaria and symptomatic dermographism are forms of inducible urticaria, also known as hives, and are allergic reactions to physical stimuli such as extreme cold or friction.

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Patients with cold urticaria may not be able to swim in cold water or be exposed to snow or sub-freezing temperatures due to the risk of an allergic reaction that can cause hives and may lead to life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Researchers used the monoclonal antibody omalizumab to treat two patient groups, 61 patients with symptomatic dermographism and 31 with cold urticaria, for three months.

Results showed that treatment with omalizumab gave patients in both groups significant improvements in symptoms and prevented symptoms in nearly half of all patients with cold urticaria and symptomatic dermographism, even when exposed to stimuli.

"Our results show that patients with severe forms of physical urticaria can benefit from treatment with omalizumab," Dr. Martin Metz, professor at Charite, said in a press release.

The drug is only licensed for use in patients with traditional hives.

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"However, given our data on the drug's effectiveness in patients with cold urticaria and symptomatic dermographism, we are hopeful that the drug will be made available to both of these patient groups," Metz said.

The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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