Asthma Research News Round-Up: February 2018

Around 25 million Americans live with asthma, 6.3 million of them under the age of 18. Asthma is both the leading chronic disease in children and the top reason for missed school days.

While asthma doesn’t have a cure, and current treatments don’t always manage symptoms well, asthma research is paving the way for potential new treatments that approach the disease from different angles. By learning more about how asthma works in the lungs, researchers hope to be able to find more effective ways to treat it.

New discovery could open door for radically different asthma treatments

Currently, steroids are the standard of care for asthma treatment. But a new discovery could create an opportunity for a whole new class of drugs to treat asthma.

One key feature of asthma is an overproduction of mucin, a sticky protein secreted by the mucous membranes of lung airways. Mucin plugs up the small airways and stops air from traveling in and out.

Researchers at the Houston Methodist Research Institute discovered an interaction between two specific molecules that may be able to be manipulated to solve the problem of overproduction of mucin.

They identified T helper cells that communicate with the cells that overproduce mucin. Using chemical inhibitors, researchers hope to be able to stop this process and find a new approach to asthma treatment.

Researchers identify gene’s role in asthma

Harvard researchers have identified a gene related to the development of asthma that they believe could lead to new treatments for the disease.

The gene, GSDMB (gasdermin B), is highly expressed in cells that line the airways in the lungs. When activated, its products induce a form of cell death linked to airway inflammation and asthma.

If researchers can find a way to deliver GSDMB-suppressing treatments into the lungs, it could stop asthma symptoms and potentially even offer a cure, if the gene is at the root cause of asthma.

Could treating eczema also treat asthma symptoms?

Having atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, increases a person’s chances of developing asthma. Researchers set out to determine whether one treatment could help both of these diseases, or if treating eczema could prevent the onset of asthma later on.

Researchers exposed a mouse model to indoor dust mites, which are linked to both eczema and asthma. The test showed that once the mouse developed skin symptoms, it later developed asthma symptoms as well. The researchers were surprised to find that the response differed significantly compared with mice whose lungs were directly exposed to the dust mites.

Next, the researchers tested a combination therapy to treat both atopic dermatitis symptoms and asthma. While the treatment did effectively alleviate the skin symptoms, it did not prevent allergic asthmatic responses in the lungs. It did reduce the severity of asthma symptoms, however, so researchers are interested in continuing to explore the treatment.

There are more than 150 asthma clinical trials currently looking for volunteers. If you’re interested in taking part, consider the featured trials below. 

Featured Trials

Bad asthma symptoms? Researchers in your area are looking for volunteers for an asthma clinical trial. See if I qualify.

Does asthma slow your child down? A clinical trial could help. See if my child qualifies.