Clinical pharmacologist Professor Alyn Morice – who discovered the mechanism of chronic cough hypersensitivity 30 years ago – is testing a potential wonder drug that could change the lives of millions of people.
An estimated one in ten people around the world suffer from a chronic cough. For many it is devastating, affecting their relationships and their careers.
But sufferers are on the verge of accessing a new drug, AF-219, being trialled at the world’s largest cough clinic, in East Yorkshire, which is run by Professor Morice.
The drug works by blocking the nerve receptors in the throat that trigger the cough reflex and early indications are that around 75 per cent of patients using AF-219 have seen a dramatic reduction in their cough for the first time in years.
AF-219, which was recently sold to Merck for over a billion dollars and is now called MK 7264, has been developed in response to Professor Morice’s game-changing discovery of cough hypersensitivity. This was fundamental to our understanding of the causes of chronic cough and how it can be treated.
Since 1987, further work in his clinic has shown that the hypersensitivity of the nerves is caused by gaseous non-acid reflux.
Professor Morice’s cough clinic, at Castle Hill Hospital, part of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, currently treats around 5,000 patients from across Europe.
He believes that MK-7264 will change the face of care for people with a persistent cough when it becomes the first new cough medicine to be licensed in 50 years.
Professor Morice is Head of Respiratory Medicine at the Hull York Medical School, based at the University of Hull.