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WA Nobel Prize winner develops asthma drug

AAP logoAAP 23/11/2016 Rebecca Gredley

A Nobel Prize-winning West Australian scientist is developing a new drug he hopes will prevent allergies in children and believes would have helped during this week's deadly asthma epidemic in Melbourne.

The University of WA's Barry Marshall and his privately funded company Ondek are working on the drug, which is based on the stomach bacterium Helicobacter pylori.

Professor Marshall once drank a concoction of the same bacteria to prove it caused stomach ulcers and as a result was named the 2005 Nobel laureate in physiology or medicine along with his colleague Dr Robin Warren.

US studies that showed children infected with the bacteria have a 45 per cent reduction in allergies and asthma prompted Ondek's work, and the company hopes to have a safe research product ready in one to two years.

The new drug, which is expected to be safe as it uses a non-viable form of the bacteria, is tasteless and will be dispensed in powder form to be taken orally.

The 2014 Global Asthma Report found that more Australians suffer from the condition than almost anywhere else in the world.

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