Asthma is the most common serious childhood illness and still causes about 2,000 deaths a year in the UK. Animal research was used to develop the medicines in the inhalers used by many people, including children, today.  

The two mainstays of asthma treatment are the ‘reliever' inhalers, such as ventolin, and the ‘preventer' inhalers such as flixotide. The development of inhalers followed work in the 1960s on the lungs of guinea pigs which led to a greater understanding of the role of chemicals released by tissues when normal biological functions are  disrupted.

In 1979 substances called leukotrienes were discovered to be the principal cause of the symptoms of allergic and inflammatory conditions. Further studies with guinea pigs and then primates resulted in the development of leukotriene receptor antagonists, the first new type of asthma treatment for 20 years.

For more information, please go to the page on asthma.

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