Australian pharmaceutical group Pharmaxis reported yesterday that its experimental cystic-fibrosis drug Bronchitol met its primary goal of improving lung function in patients with cystic fibrosis.

The double-blind, placebo-controlled study, showed that patients treated with Bronchitol (mannitol) had a statistically significant improvement in lung function from baseline of 6.6% after just six weeks, and that this was sustained throughout the remainder of the trial’s duration (26 weeks).

Shares in the group closed up 4% as investors were obviously pleased by the outcome of the study, which also showed that the drug met its secondary endpoint of further improving lung function in patients already taking Genentech's rival Pulmozyme, further swelling its potential.

Bronchitol, which carries organ drug status on both sides of the Atlantic, is designed to hydrate the airway surface of the lungs and promote normal lung mucus clearance. According to the firm, there have not been any new products approved for cystic fibrosis in more than 10 years, and it claims that its drug “can change the therapeutic landscape for many of the 75,000 people with this disease”.

Aside from its efficacy in improving lung function, Bronchitol has the added benefit of being the first dry powder formulation to publish positive results in cystic fibrosis, offering patients a more convenient method of treatment via an inhaler compared to “complex daily schedules dominated by difficult treatment regimens”, Pharmaxis claims.