Genetic breakthrough could lead to cure for asthma

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Scientists investigating the genes involved in the development of asthma may have found a way to ‘switch’ the condition off and stop it from emerging.

The research carried out at the University of Southampton analysed the impact of the gene ADAM33, which is associated with the origin of asthma.

ADAM33 makes an enzyme, which is attached to cells in the airway muscles.

When the enzyme loses its anchor to the cell surface it affects the lung and caused poorer breathing function in people who have asthma.

The studies in human tissue samples and mice found that if scientists switch off ADAM33 or prevent it from attacking the lungs, the features of asthma known as remodelling, such as more muscle and blood vessels around the airways, twitchiness and inflammation, – will be reduced.

‘This finding radically alters our understanding of the field, to say the least’, says Professor Han Michel Haitchi. ‘For years we have thought that airway remodelling is the result of the inflammation caused by an allergic reaction, but our research tells us otherwise.

‘We believe that if you block ADAM33 from going rogue or you stop its activity if it does go rogue, asthma could be prevented.

‘ADAM33 initiated airway remodelling reduces the ability of the lungs to function normally, which is not prevented by current anti-inflammatory steroid therapy.

‘Therefore, stopping this ADAM33-induced process would prevent a harmful effect that promotes the development of allergic asthma for many of the 5.4 million people in the UK with the condition.’

Research is ‘promising’

Dr. Samantha Walker, Asthma UK’s Director of Research and Policy, described the research as ‘promising’.

She said: ‘This will hopefully bring us even closer to stopping asthma attacks and finding a cure for the one in 11 people with asthma in the UK.

‘Each day three people die of asthma attacks. Research like this is a step in the right direction although much more investment is needed.

‘There are hundreds of thousands of people in the UK for whom current treatments don’t work and they struggle to breathe every day.

‘Research like this will give us better avenues to explore why this is the case and to develop treatments that work.’

This story was sourced from the ITV news website.

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