Also Known As: Cromolyn, Cromolyn sodium, Gastrocrom, Cromoglicic acid, Intal
Cromoglicic acid (INN) (also referred to as cromolyn (USAN), cromoglycate (former BAN), or cromoglicate) is traditionally described as a mast cell stabilizer, and is commonly marketed as the sodium salt sodium cromoglicate or cromolyn sodium. This drug prevents the release of inflammatory chemicals such as histamine from mast cells.
Because of their convenience (and perceived safety), leukotriene receptor antagonists have largely replaced it as the non-corticosteroid treatment of choice in the treatment of asthma. Cromoglicic acid requires administration four times daily, and does not provide additive benefit in combination with inhaled corticosteroids.
Cromolyn sodium was discovered by Roger Altounyan who was himself a lifelong asthma sufferer. It is considered a breakthrough drug in management of asthma as the patients can be freed from steroids in many cases, however, it is mainly effective as a prophylaxis for allergic and exercise induced asthma, not as a treatment for acute attacks. Altounyan was investigating certain plants and herbs which have bronchodilating properties. One such plant was Khella (Ammi visnaga) which had been used as a muscle relaxant since ancient times in Egypt. Altounyan deliberately inhaled derivatives of the active ingredient khellin to determine if they could block his asthma attacks. After several years of trial he isolated an effective and safe asthma-preventing compound called cromolyn sodium.