August 12, 2008

Trials to Begin Soon on a New Treatment for Asthma


A NEW treatment which could help millions of asthma patients ward off attacks could be tried in patients as early as next year.

Research which helps explain why catching a cold triggers symptoms such as wheezing and breathlessness in asthmatics is unveiled today.

The study, published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows how the immune response which should stop the cold virus building in the lungs is deficient in asthma sufferers.

Professor Sebastian Johnston, who worked on the research, said they had identified two proteins which asthma patients did not produce sufficiently in their fight against the virus.

Professor Johnston said he hoped trials, giving sufferers one of these through an inhaler to help boost their cold defences would start next year.

Reports have shown rates of asthma are higher in Scotland than anywhere else in the world. Across the UK, attacks cause 1200 deaths every year and cost the NHS approximately GBP1bn.

Professor Johnston said children with asthma were particularly at risk from the cold virus.

"You get loads and loads of wheezy children filling up hospital wards each winter, " he explained.

Earlier this year, Professor Johnston, of Imperial College London, announced his team had engineered the first laboratory mouse susceptible to the common cold, opening new potential for drug research .

Leanne Male, assistant director of research at Asthma UK, said: "In conjunction with the mouse model, the results of this study can pave the way for new breakthroughs in reducing the very significant impact that viruses currently have on the lives of the 5.2 million people with asthma in the UK."

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Originally published by Newsquest Media Group.

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