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Is preventing asthma as easy as stopping this rogue gene?


Washington: A team of researchers has discovered a potential and novel way of preventing asthma at the origin of the disease, a finding that could challenge the current understanding of the condition.

The University of Southampton research analysed the impact of the gene ADAM33, which is associated with the development of asthma. ADAM33 makes an enzyme, which is attached to cells in the airway muscles.

When the enzyme loses its anchor to the cell surface, it is prone to going rogue around the lung causing poorer lung functioning in people who have asthma.

The studies in human tissue samples and mice, led by Hans Michel Haitchi, suggest that if you switch off ADAM33 or prevent it from going rouge, the features of asthma – airway remodelling (more muscle and blood vessels around the airways), twitchiness and inflammation – will be reduced.

“This finding radically alters our understanding of the field, to say the least,” said Haitchi. “For years we have thought that airway remodelling is the result of the inflammation caused by an allergic reaction, but our research tells us otherwise.”

“Our studies have challenged the common paradigm that airway remodelling in asthma is a consequence of inflammation. 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,” Haitchi noted.

The study is published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) Insight.

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