Omalizumab, a biologic that targets immunoglobulin E (IgE), can reduce viral-induced asthma exacerbations in patients with allergic asthma. However, little is known about its effect on colds.
Researchers randomly assigned 478 children (aged 6–17 years) with allergic asthma to receive guideline-based care only or guideline-based care plus fluticasone or omalizumab. Treatment took place over four months during autumn, when colds are more common.
Children treated with omalizumab had 27% fewer colds than children assigned to guideline-based care. This reduction was observed in both those with moderate and severe-persistent asthma. In contrast, fluticasone had no effect on cold rates.
The researchers, who reported their results at a conference in Los Angeles, California, on 4–7 March 2016
, say the findings support the idea that by reducing IgE levels, omalizumab increases interferon responses, leading to better protection against viruses.
 Esquivel AT, Busse WW, Calatroni A et al. Omalizumab Decreases Rates of Cold Symptoms in Inner-City Children with Allergic Asthma. Presented at: American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology Annual Meeting; 4–7 March 2016; Los Angeles, California.