Study brings hope of a new treatment for asthma sufferers

Posted by ap507 at Mar 01, 2017 12:00 PM |
University of Leicester leads study into cause of airway narrowing in cases of asthma

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on Wednesday 1 March, 2017

Improved treatments for people with severe asthma are a ‘step closer’ after a research team led by the University of Leicester identified a breakthrough in the cause of airway narrowing.

Scientists have, for the first time, discovered that an active form of a key protein, HMGB1, is increased and related to narrowing of the airway in people with severe asthma.

The finding will now enable drug makers to specifically target the protein in future treatment for non-allergy related asthma.

The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, was carried out on mucous and airway muscle samples gathered from people with mild to moderate asthma, severe asthma and healthy volunteers recruited from Leicester’s Glenfield Hospital.

Dr Ruth Saunders, lead author of the study from the University of Leicester Department of Infection, Immunity & Inflammation, said: “For a number of people with asthma, particularly severe asthma, treatment is not 100 per cent effective. Although a number of new therapies are under investigation for allergy-related asthma, there is still a need for new therapies for asthma that is not related to allergies.

“We have shown that the amount of HMGB1, a protein that can be released in the airways by cells involved in inflammation or by damaged cells, is increased in the mucous from the airways of people with severe asthma.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to show a direct effect of HMGB1 on enhancing airway muscle contraction in response to stimuli. The findings of this research bring us a step closer to improved treatments for people with severe asthma.”

Asthma is a long-term condition that affects the airways. When a person with asthma comes into contact with something that irritates their sensitive airways it causes the body to react in several ways which can include wheezing, coughing and can make breathing more difficult.

The study was part funded by the NIHR Leicester Respiratory Biomedical Unit (BRU), the BBSRC studentship and in part by Airway Disease Predicting Outcomes through Patient Specific Computational Modelling (AirPROM) project (funded through an FP7 EU grant), Wellcome Senior Fellowship (CEB), and the EAACI Research Fellowship.

The NIHR Leicester Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit – a partnership between the University of Leicester and Leicester’s Hospitals - focuses on promoting the development of new and effective therapies for the treatment of respiratory diseases including severe asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Notes to editors:

For further details or to arrange an interview with the professor or the case study please email kristy.hobbs@ojpr.co.uk or oliver.jelley@ojpr.co.uk

  • This work was funded by BBSRC studentship and in part by Airway Disease Predicting 35 Outcomes through Patient Specific Computational Modelling (AirPROM) project (funded 36 through FP7 EU grant), Wellcome Senior Fellowship (CEB), EAACI Research Fellowship 37 (LDC) and the NIHR Leicester Respiratory Biomedical Unit. This paper presents 38 independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The 39 views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or 40 the Department of Health. 

  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit http://www.nihr.ac.uk.
  • The NIHR Leicester Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit based at Glenfield Hospital is a partnership between University of Leicester and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.  In 2012 the respiratory research department became part of a multi-million pound government investment by the NIHR, to become one of only twenty BRUs within England. The Unit will focus on promoting the development of new and effective therapies for the treatment of respiratory diseases including severe asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  The funding has allowed the development of a specially designed unit including clinical space and specialist team allowing first class investigations into lung disease   http://www.leicsrespiratorybru.nihr.ac.uk/
  • About the University of Leicester: The university is led by discovery and innovation. Find out more: https://le.ac.uk/about-us. Follow us on Twitter @uniofleicester and @UoLNewsCentre. University of Leicester Expertise: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/research-expertise.

 

 

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