Gene Discovery for Rheumatoid Arthritis Leads Way to Asthma Treatments

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New discoveries surrounding rheumatoid arthritis may help asthma sufferers as Queensland Medical Center found that two mutant genes found in around 58,000 sampled asthmatic patients are receptible to the same treatments that target Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) disease.

A drug used today to treat rheumatoid arthritis therefore, might be effective in treating asthma symptoms after a pair of genes - rs4129267 and rs7130588 - were found to be IL-6 dependent genes involved in the same pathways of both diseases.

Tocilizumab, known as Actemra by Roche Holding AG, targets a certain molecule in the body called "interleukin-6 receptor" and reduces inflammation. 

This is the same cytokine – protein facilitating cell interactions - which may be responsible for causing inflamed airways in Asthma sufferers, according to Queensland Medical. The cytokine may have some benefit in preventing Asthmatics as well, the Center says.

Roche Holdings also produces a number of other hormone, cytokine-related drugs that have recently gained clearance for use in treatments involving Breast Cancer, eg. Avastin, eye diseases and other rheumatoid-related conditions; should their drugs gain approval for use in Asthma, they would be able to expand their portfolio of targeted diseases.

"There's a theoretical possibility that if you could modify genetic signals using a medication, you might be able to alter the risk for asthma and allergic sensitization," said Dr. Stanley Fineman, president-elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, according to ABC News.

Fineman had no involvement in the Australian research.

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