-- Robert Preidt
SUNDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- A possible genetic basis for
severe asthma has been identified by researchers, and although the
findings are based on a study in mice, the discovery may someday
Asthma rates have been increasing in recent years. In
susceptible people, the disease can be triggered by a number of
environmental factors, including cigarette smoke, allergens and air
pollution, senior investigator Marsha Wills-Karp, director of the
division of immunobiology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical
Center, noted in a hospital news release.
In their study, the researchers found that an
inflammation-causing protein called interleukin-17 (IL-17A) is the
major cause of severe asthma-like symptoms in mice. The animals
used in the study had been bred to have a genetic resemblance to
humans with severe susceptibility to asthma.
The finding "suggests that at some point it may be possible to
treat or prevent severe forms of asthma by inhibiting pathways that
drive the production of IL-17A," Wills-Karp said in the news
Scientists typically caution, however, that many discoveries in
animal models do not translate into therapies for humans.
The study findings are published in the Aug. 29 issue of the
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
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