Study reveals new link to asthma

August 23, 2012
Study reveals new link to asthma

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at King's have established a significant link between asthma and an immune response called 'Th17', previously only attributed to inflammatory conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

Until now, the Th2 response was recognised as the predominant immune response behind due to its association with . In a new study, however, researchers have for the first time uncovered the role of Th17, which is co-ordinated by a specific type of white blood cell that produces lung-damaging molecules.

Asthma is often triggered by an immune response mounted against an inhaled allergen, which leads to inflammation or swelling in the airways. The research, published in Mucosal Immunology this week, highlights a significant link between Th17 and airway remodelling in asthma, which involves structural changes and thickening of the airways. These changes make the lungs susceptible to severe by disrupting the control mechanisms that prevent asthma in healthy individuals.

Dr Alistair Noble, and his team of researchers from the Division of Asthma, Allergy and Lung Biology at King's, tested the contribution of the Th17 response to , following prolonged exposure to an allergen. The results suggest that Th17 cells play an important role in people with symptoms, particularly in those whose symptoms do not respond to treatment with steroids.

Dr Noble said: 'We're extremely excited about the results of this research, as they point to immune signals that could be targeted to reduce airway remodelling. This could guide the use of new medicines that block the Th17 response in certain groups of people with severe asthma.'

Leanne Metcalf, Assistant Director of Research & Practice at Asthma UK, who funded the research, said: 'As well as generating new information on the causes of severe asthma, these results suggest significant treatment possibilities, particularly for those individuals for whom conventional steroid therapies just don't work. Most importantly, pursuing these lines of enquiry could have a dramatic impact on the lives of tens of thousands of people living with asthma in the UK.'

More information: www.nature.com/mi/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mi201276a.html

Related Stories

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 drug discovery

May 22, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers from King’s College London have uncovered a new mechanism of action for a group of asthma drugs already on the market, which could enable more effective treatment for patients with a particular ...

Rewiring DNA circuitry could help treat asthma

July 5, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Reprogramming asthma-promoting immune cells in mice diminishes airway damage and inflammation, and could potentially lead to new treatments for people with asthma, researchers have found.

Recommended for you

How to become a T follicular helper cell

July 30, 2015

Follicular helper Tcells (TFH cells), a rare type of immune cell that is essential for inducing a strong and lasting antibody response to viruses and other microbes, have garnered intense interest in recent years but the ...

Uncovering the secrets of immune system invaders

July 20, 2015

The human immune system is a powerful and wonderful creation. If you cut your skin, your body mobilizes a series of different proteins and cells to heal the cut. If you are infected by a virus or bacteria, your immune system ...

The role of the microbiota in preventing allergies

July 10, 2015

The human body is inhabited by billions of symbiotic bacteria, carrying a diversity that is unique to each individual. The microbiota is involved in many mechanisms, including digestion, vitamin synthesis and host defense. ...

0 comments

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.