WEDNESDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Combination therapy with
two drugs offers an effective new way to treat people with a
serious respiratory condition called pleural infection, English
Pleural infection refers to an accumulation of infected fluid in
the space between the ribs and lungs. The condition, usually the
result of lung infections such as pneumonia, can cause breathing
problems as the infected fluid puts pressure on the lungs.
Current standard treatment includes antibiotics and insertion of
a tube into the chest to drain the fluid, but this approach fails
in about one-third of cases. Surgery is another option, but may not
be suitable for older or sicker patients.
In a clinical trial involving 210 patients, researchers at the
University of Oxford found that a combination of tissue plasminogen
activator (tPA) and DNase helped to drain infected fluid from the
chest, reduce fever, decrease the need for surgery, and shorten
A week of treatment with the two drugs led to a 30 percent
reduction in the amount of fluid in the chest, compared to 17
percent for patients who received a placebo.
"This is an exciting result because this combination of two drugs has not been tested before for this condition," first author Dr. Najib Rahman, of the Oxford Respiratory Trials Unit, said in a university news release. "While neither drug appears to work on its own, the combination therapy very significantly improves the drainage of the infected fluid."
The study was published in the Aug. 11 issue of the
New England Journal of Medicine.
Cost of the two-drug treatment would be about $1,600, but
savings from shorter hospital stays could offset the expense, the
researchers said. However, the combination therapy should be
reserved for patients who haven't responded to conventional
treatments or who are too frail for surgery, they added.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more