Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A new treatment for chronic asthma?

Ventolin Inhaler
A research team from King's College London and Imperial College London led by Professor Tak Lee, of King's College London claimed that they have discovered a key component of chronic asthma which may lead the way to better treatments. The report is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They claimed that as asthma progress, the asthma patient's airways get changed or remodeled (become more muscular, particularly the smooth muscles) and it is this remodeling of the airways that is responsible for asthma becoming chronic. Because of the remodeling, the airways muscles also more reactive to allergens. The key to this process is a cellular pump in the muscles called SERCA2 (Sarco/Endoplasmic Reticulum Ca2+-ATPase). The job of SERCA2 is to pump calcium out of the muscles so that the muscles can relax.

The researchers found that if they removed SERCA2 from the cells of non-asthmatic healthy people, these cells begin to behave like asthma cells.

The researchers thus believe that if they can replace the SERCA2 in the airway muscles of asthmatic patients, they may be able to reduce the symptoms and put a brake on the long term changes in the lungs which caused chronic asthma. This is thus a possible route to finding new treatments for asthma patients.



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