An experimental drug called gefapixant blocks a cellular receptor that’s key to the cough reflex, according to research published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

Anywhere from 4% to 10% of adults have troublesome chronic cough, defined as an unexplained cough lasting more than eight weeks. But a new drug may offer some long-sought relief.

“Many patients with a chronic cough are driven to seek treatment because of the significant negative impact it can have on their quality of life, but at the moment physicians are unable to help,” noted study leader Jacky Smith, a professor at the University of Manchester, in England.

This “is the first study to report a treatment that is safe and effective over the longer term,” Smith said in a journal news release. She added that “phase 3 trials are already underway with an even larger group of people and over a longer time frame.”