New Cause of Asthma Damage Uncovered by UK Scientists

UK scientists from King’s College London have uncovered a new culprit behind the damage inflicted by asthma attacks. This discovery offers hope for preventive treatments that could halt the progression of this life-threatening condition.

New Cause of Asthma Damage Uncovered by UK Scientists

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Asthma affects millions globally, with over 5.4 million individuals suffering from this chronic respiratory condition in the UK alone.

Triggers such as pollen, dust, and exercise can provoke inflammation and swelling in the airways, leading to distressing symptoms including wheezing, coughing, and breathlessness.

Current asthma treatments primarily target inflammation and aim to alleviate symptoms. Inhalers containing medications like albuterol provide temporary relief by opening constricted airways.

These treatments do not address the underlying cause of the disease or prevent long-term damage. Researchers at King’s College London conducted studies using mouse models and human lung tissue samples.

They discovered that during asthma attacks, the constriction of smooth muscles surrounding the airways leads to the squeezing and destruction of epithelial cells lining the airways.

This mechanical damage to the airway lining triggers a cascade of events, including inflammation, mucus secretion, and barrier function.

The researchers identified a process called cell extrusion, wherein epithelial cells are forced out of the airway lining.

Unlike traditional anti-inflammatory therapies, targeting the mechanical damage caused by asthma attacks could offer a novel approach to treatment.

The researchers propose that inhibiting the cell extrusion pathway could prevent airway damage and reduce inflammation.

One promising avenue explored by the researchers involves the use of gadolinium, a chemical compound that has shown efficacy in blocking cell extrusion in mouse models. While further research is needed to assess its safety and effectiveness in humans.

Dr. Samantha Walker, the Director of Research and Innovation at Asthma + Lung UK, underlines the urgent need for new treatment options for individuals with asthma.

With approximately 31% of asthma patients facing inadequate symptom control, novel therapies targeting the root cause of the disease could hope for improved outcomes.

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Current treatments primarily focus on managing inflammation and opening airways during attacks. These treatments often fail to address the root cause of asthma or prevent long-term lung damage.

Recent research led by Professor Jody Rosenblatt and her team at King’s College London has unveiled a previously overlooked mechanism underlying asthma-related lung damage.

They discovered that during asthma attacks, the mechanical constriction of airways leads to the destruction of cells lining the airways, exacerbating inflammation, mucus production, and tissue damage.

Bronchoconstriction, the tightening of muscles around the bronchi during asthma attacks, plays a role in causing cell damage.

The research highlights the role of epithelial cell death, particularly through a process called cell extrusion, in exacerbating asthma-related lung damage.

When airways contract during bronchoconstriction, epithelial cells are forced out, leading to tissue damage and inflammation.

The study identifies a preventive treatment using gadolinium, a chemical compound that blocks cell extrusion.

Initial experiments in mice have shown promising results in preventing excess extrusion and tissue damage.

With asthma affecting millions globally and posing healthcare burdens, the development of preventive treatments could alleviate the suffering and improve the quality of life for individuals living with asthma.

The research was made possible through funding from Wellcome, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the American Asthma Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Leicester.

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