Stopping Asthma Before it Starts

Asthma is a more common condition than you might think; it is estimated that there are 25 million asthmatics in the United States. Making matters worse is that a wide range of substances can induce an asthma attack. Fortunately, new research may provide much needed relief for numerous asthma sufferers.

Two Tiny Problems

Authored by faculty from La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI), this research sought to preempt asthma attacks by controlling the behavior of two immune molecules. The cells in question, known as OX40L and CD30L, play a key role in the immune system reactions responsible for asthma symptoms. Specifically, these protein molecules activate T cells within the body, which in turn cause inflammation within the lungs’ airways.

For their study, the research team targeted OX40L and CD30L in laboratory mice. The allergens used in the study were dust mites, a common allergen found in homes. Dust mites are often the culprit behind asthma attacks. Upon simultaneously blocking both the OX40L and CD30L molecules, the study authors observed that buildup of T cells within the mice’s lungs ceased, leading to a relative absence of lung inflammation.

Less T Cells, Less Trouble

The study further noted that, following the asthma flareup, the amount of pathogenic T cells in the lungs was significantly less than what is typically seen after an asthma attack. This was a notable achievement, as these cells are responsible for future bouts of inflammation following exposure to allergens. The LJI authors noted that the mice exhibited less intense asthma symptoms in the weeks after treatment.

The team’s conclusions were published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The study’s senior author, Michael Croft, Ph.D., summarized his group’s work by noting that they had “found a way to block the acute asthmatic inflammatory response and we saw a strong, long-lasting reduction in asthma exacerbations.”

Given their success, the team is weighing further research into this issue. One potential option is to identify other troublesome molecules linked to asthmatic symptoms, which could then possibly be neutralized.

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