Scientists make major breakthrough in finding the cause of asthma
A major breakthrough in finding the cause of asthma has happened, according to scientists. The chronic inflammatory disease affects one in every 12 adults and one in every 11 children in the UK and the Irish figure is similar. But scientists believe they have found the root cause of the condition, meaning a new effective treatment could be in place in the next five years.
Currently, around five per cent of sufferers do not respond to any treatments available, such as inhalers.
But now that the team at Cardiff University have found a protein within the airways, which they believe triggers all asthma attacks, their suffering could soon be over.
Remarkably, a drug already exists which they think could deactivate the protein, raising hopes for a treatment which may be effective for any asthma patient. The scientists have already proven that it works on mice and human tissue samples in their laboratory.
"Our findings are incredibly exciting," lead investigator Professor Daniela Riccardi said.
The first clinical trials have now been designed and could begin within the next two years.
Asthma in adults is more common in women than in men and can develop at any age, including childhood and old age.
The discovery was made by Professor Riccardi, who realised that a protein that triggers the growth of calcium within bones also plays a role in the airways. Further tests revealed that asthmatics had far higher levels of the protein - called a calcium sensing receptor or CaSR - than healthy people.
"For the first time we have found a link between airways inflammation, which can be caused by environmental triggers - such as allergens, cigarette smoke and car fumes – and airways twitchiness in allergic asthma," she added.