The  U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the asthma drug, Nucala (mepolizumab) to also treat adults with eosinophilic granulomatosis with polyangiitis (also known as Churg-Strauss syndrome), a rare autoimmune disease that inflames blood vessels in the blood.

In a news release, Badrul Chowdhury, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Rheumatology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The expanded indication of Nucala meets a critical, unmet need for EGPA patients. It’s notable that patients taking Nucala in clinical trials reported a significant improvement in their symptoms.”

Nucala was approved in 2015 in the U.S. (and in 2016 in Canada) to treat a severe form of asthma. It is currently not known when or if the drug will be approved in Canada for the treatment of Churg-Strauss syndrome.

According to the Vasculitis Foundation of Canada, the inflamed blood vessels observed in Churg-Strauss syndrome most commonly lead to problems in the lungs, peripheral nerves, sinuses, and the skin, although other organs can be affected including the heart, stomach, kidneys and the central nervous system.

Asthma is commonly observed as the initial symptom in Churg-Strauss syndrome and vasculitis phase may not manifest itself for 8 to 10 years after the initial asthma symptoms.