Two new studies, one for children and one for adults, at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Antibiotics, are being carried out to challenge the prevailing recommendation that regular use of antibiotics is not good when person is having asthma attacks. UW is one of eight centers in the nation participating in the Macrolides in Asthma (MIA) trial through the Asthma Clinical Research Network of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The MIA trial aims to enroll 144 adults (age 18-60) who have moderate to severe asthma symptoms despite use of standard medical therapy. ‘There is emerging evidence from other recent research that, for some patients, adding an antibiotic to standard therapy may improve asthma symptoms considerably,’ says Robert F. Lemanske, Jr., MD, the principal investigator for both UW studies. ‘But the question is far from settled. Even if antibiotics are effective against asthma, the medical community does not yet understand how they might work against the disease–by reducing inflammation, curing a minor infection, or both. These studies are very exciting because they could open up a whole new line of treatment for asthma.’ More than 20 million Americans have been diagnosed with asthma, and the incidence of the disease is growing quickly for reasons that are not well understood. Most patients do well on conventional medication therapy, but some do not respond satisfactorily to current treatments. The current national guidelines for asthma treatment discourage the routine use of antibiotics for asthma. This is mainly, says Lemanske, because of concerns about overuse of antibiotics and the development of resistance with recurrent or chronic use of them. The MARS study seeks to enroll 42 children here (210 nationwide). Potential participants must be between the ages of 6 and 17 years at enrollment and must have moderate to severe asthma requiring significant corticosteroids for control. Following National Institutes of Health guidelines, the goal is to achieve 33 percent minority participation and at least 40 percent female.