In great news for asthma sufferers – scientists say they are close to finding a ‘genetic cure’ for the respiratory condition.
Researchers from the University of Southampton have discovered that a specific gene – ADAM33 – can cause asthma by narrowing sufferers airways, reports The Telegraph.
ADAM33 stimulates the body to produce an enzyme that normally helps regrow damaged muscles.
However, in people with asthma it malfunctions, building new muscles and blood vessels where it doesn’t need to – narrowing airways.
Specialists previously thought the condition was caused mainly by allergens such as pollen or dust, and although it is these substances that inflame the airways, they have now discovered that the gene makes them narrower to begin with.
During the study – published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation – scientists experimented on both humans and mice using dust mites.
They found that when they ‘switched off’ ADAM33, the allergens had less of an effect.
Professor Hans Michel Haitchi, associate professor in respiratory medicine, said:
This finding radically alters our understanding of the field, to say the least.
For years we have thought that airway remodelling is the result of the inflammation caused by an allergic reaction, but our research tells us otherwise.
We believe that if you block ADAM33 from going rogue or you stop its activity if it does go rogue, asthma could be prevented.
With an estimated 5.4 million people in the UK alone suffering from the condition this is actually pretty big news…