Health & FitnessScience

Researchers discover cause of asthma

Researchers believe they may have found the cause of asthma and have published a study at Cardiff University that indicates the disease can be controlled by using drugs already on the market.
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease often defined by difficulty breathing due to the inflammation of airways, which is exacerbated by environmental triggers such as cigarette smoke, air pollution and allergens.
Professor Daniela Riccardi, one of the study’s leading contributors, discussed in an interview with BBC that the link between triggers and inflammation of the airways has finally been discovered. 
“What we found is that when we have asthma there are triggers that release chemicals that activate a sensor in our airways and that activation of the sensor increases airway twitchiness, inflammation and airway narrowing, which are typical of asthma.”
The sensor Riccardi speaks of is the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR), a protein released in the body to regulate the amount of calcium found within the blood. In Riccardi’s research, external triggers activate the CaSR, thereby leading to inflammation and the narrowing of the airways. 
If we were to block the CaSR sensor from reacting by using readily available drugs, researchers believe they can prevent airway twitchiness and inflammation from occurring, potentially revolutionizing the impact asthma will have on the over 300 million sufferers of the disease worldwide.
Dr. Samantha Walker helped to fund the research and indicates how important this discovery is.
“This hugely exciting discovery enables us, for the first time, to tackle the underlying causes of asthma symptoms. Five percent of people with asthma don't respond to current treatments so research breakthroughs could be life changing for hundreds of thousands of people.”
The drugs researchers are referring to are calcilytics. Originally developed to help treat osteoporosis, the drugs have proven ineffectual in that area, but have shown great results in preventing the CaSR sensor from reacting in both mouse models with asthma and human airway tissue taken from both asthmatic and non-asthmatic people. 
Finding CaSR in airway tissue and subsequently discovering this sensor was the missing link between cause and effect has resulted in great hopes for future treatment. This discovery is not only significant for asthma sufferers, but for other people suffering from pulmonary diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic bronchitis.
The researchers hope to receive additional funding which will allow them to begin studies to show the effectiveness of these drugs on asthma sufferers. Calcilytics may become available to asthma patients as early as within five years. 

Related Articles

Back to top button