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New asthma treatment breakthrough 'incredibly exciting'

By Stephen Morgan     Apr 26, 2015 in Health
Doctors in the UK say they are "incredibly excited" about a new discovery which identifies the root cause of asthma and offers a treatment which may finally provide a cure to the crippling disease.
Scientists from Cardiff University in Wales, UK have found a protein in the lungs of asthma sufferers which appears to behind all asthma attacks.
Consequently, experiments with a drug previously used in osteoporosis suggest that a miraculous new treatment could be available for public use in just five years from now.
Things such as allergens, car fumes or cigarette smoke trigger the inflammation of the air passages making breathing difficult and causing wheezing and coughing, but the fundamental reason for it has remained murky.
Now, the researchers have identified the calcium-sensing receptor (CaSR) to be the main cause of the disease. The lead investigator, Professor Daniela Riccardi said they were "incredibly excited" over the findings.
Medical News Today quotes her as saying;
"Our paper shows how these triggers release chemicals that activate CaSR in airway tissue and drive asthma symptoms like airway twitchiness, inflammation, and narrowing."
The discovery came by chance, when Professor Daniela Riccardi, whose was previously a bone specialist, changed to investigating lung disease.
According to the Mail Online, she realized that CaSR, which triggers the growth of calcium within bones also plays a role in the air passages.
When studying asthmatics, they found that they have much higher levels of the protein than other people and that environmental triggers caused a rapid increase of calcium in their lungs.
More amazing, is that a drug already exists, which is used against such things as brittle-bone disease, and it seems it can also be applied to the lungs.
The researchers reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine, that, the drug known as calcilytics, reversed all symptoms of asthma.
"Using calcilytics, nebulized directly into the lungs, we show that it is possible to deactivate CaSR and prevent all of these symptoms."
Some 300 million people suffer from asthma worldwide and this will be especially important for some 5% of all sufferers don't respond to any current medications.
If successful, this will be the first major step forward in treating asthma in 50 years – an area of medical research which has been chronically underfunded.
The drug has been shown to work on mice and human tissue samples in the laboratory and, as soon as funding has been secured, the researchers aim to be carrying out trials on humans within two years.
"If we can prove that calcilytics are safe when administered directly to the lung in people, then in five years we could be in a position to treat patients and potentially stop asthma from happening in the first place," stated Professor Riccardi in the Cardiff University web site.
Professor Paul Kemp, who co-authored the study, added that the breakthrough also shows potential for the treatment of other inflammatory lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic bronchitis, for which there is no cure and which are predicted to become the world's third biggest medical killers by 2020.
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