Discovery of asthma cause could help treat sufferers

October 5, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists at the University of Bath have found a new cause of severe asthma that could help develop a treatment and potentially prevent the 1100 asthma deaths each year in the UK.

Asthma is one of the most common and affects around 300 million people worldwide. It is associated with closure of the airways in response to , leading to breathlessness.

Now scientists in the University’s Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology have found a new underlying cause of , which could help in developing a new treatment for the disease and eventually save lives.

The research has been published in the world’s leading allergy journal, the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Although most patients with asthma can be treated with inhaled medication, approximately 5-10 per cent of patients do not respond to these drugs. These individuals are classified as severe asthmatics and are the most likely to suffer from asthma attacks, leading to hospitalisation and even death.

Professor Mark Lindsay, from the Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, said: “Our research team has identified a novel mechanism that might underlie severe asthma.

“In collaboration with researchers from Imperial College, the University of Manchester and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, we have found that patients with severe asthma show activation of a specific group of immune cells, called CD8+ T-cells.”

The research team is now looking to attract funding to study the reasons why CD8+ T-cells are switched on in sufferers of severe asthma.

Professor Lindsay said: “We need to determine why CD8+ is switched on, in order to understand whether it is a cause of extreme asthma or whether it is suffering with extreme asthma that switches it on.

“If it is a cause and we are able to target the activation of these immune cells using drugs, we might be able to prevent the switching on of CD8+ and provide a novel approach to the treatment of severe .”

Explore further: People hospitalized with asthma 'less likely to die from swine flu'

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Monkeys in Asia harbor virus from humans, other species

November 19, 2015

When it comes to spreading viruses, bats are thought to be among the worst. Now a new study of nearly 900 nonhuman primates in Bangladesh and Cambodia shows that macaques harbor more diverse astroviruses, which can cause ...

One-step test for hepatitis C virus infection developed

November 14, 2015

UC Irvine Health researchers have developed a cost-effective one-step test that screens, detects and confirms hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Dr. Ke-Qin Hu, director of hepatology services, will present findings at the ...

Computer model reveals deadly route of Ebola outbreak

November 10, 2015

Using a novel statistical model, a research team led by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health mapped the spread of the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, providing the most detailed picture to date ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.