An international study led by researchers from University of Newcastle has found a way to defeat the cause of asthma, according to media reports.
Asthma is a long term disease that narrows the airways, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. The disease causes chest tightening, wheezing and coughing. In the U.S., about 25 million people suffer from asthma, of which at least 7 million are children.
Currently, treatments for both virus and other allergens related asthma attacks are similar. However, asthma symptoms that are caused by viruses may be difficult to treat with current therapies, researchers said. After years of studying asthma attacks, researchers found that two proteins play an important role in triggering these attacks whenever they come in contact with viruses or dust particles.
The proteins are called midline-1 and protein phosphatase 2A. The study found that when dust particles come in contact with lungs, the levels of midline-1 protein goes up while the level of phosphatase 2A is brought down. Since this phosphatase protein is associated with controlling the action of other proteins that are associated with mucous production and inflammation, its reduced levels lead to asthma symptoms, northern weekly reported.
Researchers say that targeting these molecular pathways will lead to better treatments for asthma than targeting other symptoms.
"The proteins are generated in the innermost layer of the airways, where the body has first contact with allergens and viruses, and once activated they appear to modulate many other disease factors. Obviously it is better to target these earlier signals rather than the hundreds of downstream effects," said Dr Adam Collison, one of the study authors, in a press release.
Researchers have already started testing therapeutic agents that target this pathway.
"We have seen that this pathway operates in the cells of asthmatics, and our pre-clinical disease models showed that we can inhibit the pathway and protect against the development of both virus- and allergen-induced asthma," said Joerg Mattes, lead author of the study.
The study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.