August 12, 2009

Powerful new therapy for asthma possible

U.S. medical scientists say they have identified an enzyme that might lead to a new and powerful therapy for most allergen-caused asthma attacks.

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston said the enzyme (aldose reductase) is apparently critical to most allergen-provoked asthma attacks and that enzymatic activity can be significantly reduced by compounds that have already undergone clinical trials as treatments for complications of diabetes.

The scientists said their discovery, made in experiments with mice and in human cell cultures, opens the way for human testing of a powerful new treatment for asthma.

Oral administration of aldose reductase inhibitors works effectively in experimental animals, said Professor Satish Srivastava, senior author of the research. If these drugs work as well in humans as they do in animals you could administer them either orally or in a single puff from an inhaler and get long-lasting results.

The study that included postdoctoral fellows Umesh Yadav and Leopoldo Aguilera-Aguirre, Associate Professor Kota Venkata Ramana, Professor Istvan Boldogh and Assistant Professor Hamid Boularesis appears in the online journal PLoS One.