Inhaled Ectoin® Provides Natural Barrier in Airways
Dear Dr. Mahler:
I live in London where there we have air pollution. My COPD is fairly stable, but I have breathing problems when I go outside and walk my dog. I check the air quality index each day, and try to limit activities to early AM and late afternoon. However, both my dog and I have to get out of the apartment several times a day or else we go crazy. Is there anything else that I can do?
Willie of London, UK
As you know, outdoor air pollution is a global health issue that kills over 3 million people a year. Research is showing new impacts on health in addition to lung and heart disease, such as Alzheimer’s, mental illness, and diabetes.
A new inhaler has been developed by a German medical device company called bitop AG. The inhaler has a molecule called Ectoin® which was discovered in the 1980s in a desert bacteria. According to Dr. Andreas Bilstein at bitop, “It is quite an inert molecule that does one main thing, which is bind water, which stablizes cell membrane tissues against physical or chemical damage.”
When inhaled, Ectoin® provides a natural barrier to help prevent damage caused by air pollution particles that can lead to inflammation of the breathing tubes (airways). Dr. Bilstein stated that the perfect situation is that the person inhales it in the morning and evening at home.
So far, the inhaler has been tested in small groups of patients with asthma, COPD, and bronchitis considered to be at risk from air pollution.
Ectoin® does not interact with cell receptors so it is classified as a medical device rather than a drug. This means that large clinical studies are not required for official approval and the inhaler could be on sale soon. The estimated cost will be 17 pounds ($22) per month.
Bitop AG is the worldwide producer of Ectoin®. The company has about 35 employees with headquarters in Witten, Germany.
I suggest that you keep an eye out for when Ectoin® will be available. In the meantime, considering eating a lot of fruits and vegetables. These foods contain antioxidants which can provide some protection from inhaling air pollutants.
Donald A. Mahler, M.D.
Particulate matter coming out of smokestacks in city