Potential Asthma cure BREAKTHROUGH in University of Southampton Study

Asthma could be “cured” by turning off the gene which causes it

asthma inhalersA University of Southampton study suggests there is an asthma cure on the horizon.

Researchers found they could prevent the origin of the condition – a discovery which could reinvent the way we currently understand asthma. Typically, the condition is treated with steroid inhalers, anti-histamines and  in extreme cases, nebulizers and oxygen. This study may revolutionise the way the condition is treated.

The Southampton team, lead by Associate Professor in Respiratory Medicine Hans Michael Haitchi, analysed the impact of the gene ADAM33 – associated with the development of the condition.

This gene produces an enzyme which attaches to cells in airway muscles – these can then ‘run rogue’ and cause poor lung function and difficulty in breathing. The enzyme causes ‘airway remodelling’ – a build up of muscle and blood vessels around the lungs. This worsens the effects of inflammation caused by coming into contact with allergens.

Studies in samples of human tissue and mice found asthmatic symptoms are reduced if you turn off ADAM33, or prevent it from “going rogue”.

Speaking about the study, Professor Haitchi said: “This finding radically alters our understanding of the field, to say the least. For years we have that airway remodelling is the result of the inflammation caused by an allergic reaction, but our research tell us otherwise. More importantly, we believe that if you block ADAM33 from going rogue or you stop its activity if it does go rogue, asthma could be prevented.”

Initially, the study showed rogue ADAM33 caused airway remodelling – more muscle and blood vessels around the airways of developing lungs – but no inflammation.

It was only after a house dust mite allergen was introduced – a very common asthma trigger in humans – airway remodelling and allergic inflammation were significantly enhanced.

The Southampton research team also studied the impact of house dust mite allergen had on asthma features in  mice who’d had the ADAM33 gene removed. Airway inflammation rates were reduced by 50% in mice without the rogue gene. Airway remodelling and twitchiness were also significantly reduced.

The findings of Haitchi’s team identifiy the ADAM33 gene as a new target for disease modifying therapy in asthma. The Professor added; “Our studies have challenged the common paradigm that airway remodelling in asthma is a consequence of inflammtion. Instead, we have shown that rogue human ADAM33 initiates airway remodelling that promotes allergic inflammation and twitchiness of the airways in the presence of allergen.”

“ADAM33 intiated airway remodelling reduces the ability of the lungs to function normally, which is not prevented by current anti-inflammatory steroid therapy. Therefore, stopping this ADAM33-induced process would prevent a harmful effect that promotes the development of allergic asthma for many of the 54 million people in the UK with the condition.”

More than 1500 people die of asthma-related conditions each year. The Southampton team’s discovery could revolutionise the way the condition is treated.