Tags: asthma | root | cause | discover | CaSR

Researchers Uncover Root Cause of Asthma

By    |   Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 02:03 PM


British and American researchers have discovered the root cause of asthma, and in the process found an existing drug that is an effective treatment.

They discovered a protein which they believe triggers all asthma attacks. People with asthma have higher levels of the protein, called a calcium sensing receptor or CaSR. When an asthmatic person comes in contact with an irritating substance, such as pollen or dust, molecules of CaSR go into overdrive and trigger a quick increase of calcium within lung cells. The excess calcium makes the cells contract, causing airways to spasm, which triggers an asthma attack.

"Our findings are incredibly exciting," said the principal investigator, Professor Daniela Riccardi, from Cardiff University School of Biosciences. "For the first time we have found a link to airways inflammation, which can be caused by environmental triggers — such as allergens, cigarette smoke and car fumes — and airways twitchiness in allergic asthma."

At the same time, the researchers found that a class of drugs known as calcilytics causes CaSR to reverse all asthmatic symptoms. Currently, calcilytics are mainly used to treat osteoporosis.

"Our paper shows how these triggers release chemicals that activate CaSR in airway tissue and drive asthma symptoms like airway twitchiness, inflammation, and narrowing," Riccardi said. "Using calcilytics, nebulized directly into the lungs, we show that it is possible to deactivate CaSR and prevent all of these symptoms."

"If we can prove that calcilytics are safe when administered directly to the lung in people, then in five years we could be in a position to treat patients and potentially stop asthma from happening in the first place," she said.

"This hugely exciting discovery enables us, for the first time, to tackle the underlying causes of asthma symptoms. Five per cent of people with asthma don’t respond to current treatments, so research breakthroughs could be life changing for hundreds of thousands of people," said Dr. Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK.

"If this research proves successful, we may be just a few years away from a new treatment for asthma, and we urgently need further investment to take it further through clinical trials," Walker said. "Asthma research is chronically underfunded; there have only been a handful of new treatments developed in the last 50 years, so the importance of investment in research like this is absolutely essential."

In addition to treating asthma, identifying the CaSR trigger may mean a potential treatment for other lung diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic bronchitis. Currently, both diseases have no cure.

The research team also included scientists from King's College London and the Mayo Clinic.


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British and American researchers have discovered the root cause of asthma, and in the process found an existing drug that is an effective treatment. They discovered a protein which they believe triggers all asthma attacks. People with asthma have higher levels of the...
asthma, root, cause, discover, CaSR
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2015-03-23
Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 02:03 PM
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