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January 29, 2008, 9:26 PM CT

New Treatment Target for Asthma

New Treatment Target for Asthma
An enzyme released by mast cells in the lungs appears to play a key role in the tightening of airways that is a hallmark of asthma - pointing to a potential new target for therapy against the illness.

Reporting in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team at Weill Cornell Medical College explains that during an immune response, mast cells release the enzyme - called renin - which in turn produces angiotensin, a potent constrictor of the smooth muscle that lines airways.

Mast cells are normally present in small numbers in all organs, and are best known for their role in allergy, shock, wound healing and defense against pathogens.

"Back in 2005, our team was the first to discover that mast cells in the heart released renin locally, which elicited heart arrhythmias by triggering angiotensin production within the heart," explained co-senior author Dr. Roberto Levi, professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

"Now, we've expanded those findings to the lungs, where similar mechanisms appear to work locally to help trigger constriction in the airway," he says.

Renin is no stranger to medical research - for decades, doctors have known that the enzyme is produced by the kidney in relatively large quantities for systemic use throughout the body. But the Weill Cornell team was the first to discover that mast cells also produced their own "local" supply of the enzyme, at a variety of body sites.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 17, 2008, 8:40 PM CT

opening door to 'personalized' asthma therapy

opening door to 'personalized' asthma therapy
In the last few years, personalized medicine using genetic or other molecular biology-based diagnostic tests to customize therapy for a particular patient has emerged as a powerful new tool for health care.

Therapy guided by genetic testing has proven highly successful in treating some types of leukemia and breast and lung cancer. Similar personalized therapies are on the horizon for other types of cancer, as well as diabetes, heart disease and other deadly disorders.

Now, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) scientists and their colleagues elsewhere have taken the first steps toward bringing the methods of personalized medicine to asthma.

Applying state-of-the-art protein screening techniques to samples taken from 84 asthmatic volunteers, theyve made the first identification of different subtypes of asthma based on distinct protein profiles, unique combinations of 10 or more proteins with which they are associated.

One of these profiles corresponds to a variety of severe, therapy-resistant asthma that, while rare, is responsible for 40 to 50 percent of the total health care costs linked to the disease.

We know that in asthma some people respond to very specific types of therapies and others dont, said Dr. Allan Brasier, director of UTMBs Sealy Center for Molecular Medicine and a senior author of a paper on the study appearing in the just-published recent issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (online at http://journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/ymai). Being able to discover different asthma subtypes should allow us to tailor our therapys to increase the odds of a positive response, Brasier added.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 14, 2008, 5:18 PM CT

How allergic reactions are triggered

How allergic reactions are triggered
In demonstrating that a group of calcium ion channels play a crucial role in triggering inflammatory responses, scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) have not only solved a longstanding molecular mystery regarding the onset of asthma and allergy symptoms, but have also provided a fundamental discovery regarding the functioning of mast cells. Their findings are reported in the January 2008 issue of Nature Immunology.

A group of immune cells found in tissues throughout the body, mast cells were once exclusively known for their role in allergic reactions, as per the studys lead author Monika Vig, PhD, an investigator in the Department of Pathology at BIDMC and Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Mast cells store inflammatory cytokines and compounds [including histamine and heparin] in sacs called granules, she explains. When the mast cells encounter an allergen pollen, for example they degranuate, releasing their contents and triggering allergic reactions.

But, she adds, in recent years, researchers have uncovered numerous other roles for mast cells, suggesting they are key to many biological processes and are involved in diseases ranging from multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis to cancer and atherosclerosis.

In order for mast cells to function, they require a biological signal specifically, calcium. Calcium moves in and out of the cells by way of ion channels known as CRAC (calcium-release-activated calcium) currents. Last year, several research groups, including Vigs, identified CRACM1 as being the exact gene that was encoding for this calcium channel.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 10, 2008, 10:30 PM CT

Challenge previous findings regarding asthma treatment

Challenge previous findings regarding asthma treatment
A new study published recently in The Lancet reveals that one of the most usually used asthma medicines -- long-acting beta-agonists -- may not be linked to adverse events in people based on their genotype (gene variation), as prior studies had shown.

The study analyzed the effects of long-acting beta-agonist treatment, used in combination with inhaled corticosteroids, in asthmatics who have a specific beta-2 adrenergic receptor (ADRB2) genotype.

Investigators analyzed data from two clinical trials performed by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP. In each trial, patients were randomized to receive one of two different long-acting beta-agonists. In the case of each of the therapies, asthma symptoms and control improved, but no differences were observed based on the ADRB2 genotype.

These results are extremely important because prior studies on short-acting beta-agonists showed evidence for an adverse genotypic effect, said Eugene R. Bleecker, M.D., Thomas H. Davis Professor of Medicine, co-director of Center for Human Genomics at Wake Forest Baptist, and lead-investigator for the study. Smaller studies on long-acting beta-agonists have produced conflicting results.

Current guidelines recommend the use of combination treatment, with long-acting beta-agonists and inhaled corticosteroids, to control moderate to severe persistent asthma.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 2, 2008, 8:31 PM CT

Protein a possible key to allergy and asthma control

Protein a possible key to allergy and asthma control
Activating a protein found on some immune cells seems to halt the cells typical job of spewing out substances that launch allergic reactions, a study by Johns Hopkins scientists suggests. The findings could eventually lead to new therapys for allergic reactions ranging from annoying bouts of hay fever to deadly asthma attacks.

Prior studies by Bruce Bochner and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins Asthma and Allergy Center had zeroed in on the protein, Siglec-8, as an important player in allergic reactions. This protein is found on the surfaces of some types of immune cells, namely eosinophils, basophils and mast cells, which have diverse but cooperative roles in normal immune function and allergic diseases. Eosinophils directly combat foreign invaders, such as parasites. Basophils and mast cells store and release substances such as histamine, prostaglandins and cytokines, which signal other immune system cells to ready for battle.

When functioning correctly, these cells are a valuable aid to keeping the body healthy and infection-free. However, in allergic reactions and asthma attacks, the cells unleash an overwhelming response that typically harms the body more than it helps.

The scientists found in prior studies that when they activated Siglec-8 on the surface of eosinophils, the cells promptly died. Expecting the same suicidal response in mast cells, the researchers tested their theory in a new study on human mast cells and mast-cell-containing tissues.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 7, 2007, 6:55 PM CT

Viral Infections Andt Asthma In Young Children

Viral Infections Andt Asthma In Young Children
Babies who get severe respiratory viral infections are much more likely to suffer from asthma as they get older. Now scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have pinpointed a key step in the development of asthma in mice after a severe respiratory infection. They suggest that medications designed to interfere with this mechanism could potentially prevent a number of cases of childhood asthma.

"A severe respiratory infection in infancy greatly increases the risk of developing asthma," says the study's lead author Mitchell Grayson, M.D., assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Allergy and Immunology. "Less than one in 30 people who don't suffer a severe respiratory infection as a baby develop asthma, but of those who do get these infections, one in five goes on to have asthma".

Grayson and his colleagues published their research in the Oct. 29, 2007, issue of the Journal of Experimental Medicine. They observed that mice that developed asthma-like symptoms after a severe respiratory viral infection had an unusual immune reaction. During the infection, the mice produced antibodies and immune signals similar to those produced during an allergic response, instead of those typically made in response to infection. That started a chain reaction that led to asthma. The scientists propose that a similar reaction occurs in some people who suffer severe respiratory viral infections.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 7, 2007, 5:06 AM CT

Link between asthma and depressive disorders

Link between asthma and depressive disorders
Young people with asthma are about twice as likely to suffer from depressive and anxiety disorders than are children without asthma, as per a research studyby a research team in Seattle. Prior research had suggested a possible link in young people between asthma and some mental health problems, such as panic disorder, but this study is the first showing such a strong correlation between the respiratory condition and depressive and anxiety disorders. The findings are reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

The study was conducted by scientists at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Group Health Cooperative, and Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute. The scientists interviewed more than 1,300 youths, ages 11 to 17, who were enrolled in the Group Health Cooperative health maintenance organization. Of the participants, 781 had been diagnosed with or treated for asthma, and the rest were randomly selected youths with no history of asthma.

About 16 percent of the young people with asthma had depressive or anxiety disorders, the scientists found, in comparison to about 9 percent of youth without asthma. When controlling for other possible variables, youth with asthma were about 1.9 times as likely to have such depressive or anxiety disorders.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 16, 2007, 7:44 PM CT

Farm kids have lower risk of asthma

Farm kids have lower risk of asthma
Farm children appear to have a lower risk of asthma than their urban counterparts or even those living in a non-agricultural rural environment, as per a University of Alberta study.

Analysis of two surveys involving 13,524 asthmafree children aged less than 12 years in the ongoing Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) showed that children living in a farming environment had a lower risk of developing asthma than their counterparts who resided in either non-farming rural environments, such as residential acreages and rural towns, or an urban environment.

The two-year cumulative occurence rate of asthma was only 2.3 per cent in farm children, in comparison to 5.3 per cent for other rural and 5.7 per cent for urban children.

The study was published recently in the journal Respirology.

Farm children of ages one to five years also showed a stronger protective effect against asthma than those aged six to 11 years, possibly due to earlier exposure to the farm environment, said William Midodzi, lead author on the study and a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Health Sciences in the University of Alberta School of Public Health in Edmonton, Canada.

As well, youngsters with parental history of asthma living in farming environments had a reduced risk of asthma in comparison to children living in rural non-farm environments, whereas children with parental history of asthma living in urban areas had a higher risk when compared with children living in rural non-farm environments.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 27, 2007, 9:51 PM CT

Study links asthma to allergies

Study links asthma to allergies
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have observed that more than 50 percent of the current asthma cases in the country can be attributed to allergies, with approximately 30 percent of those cases attributed to cat allergy.

It has long been debated whether people who develop asthma have a genetic propensity to develop allergies, or atopy, said Darryl C. Zeldin, M.D., a senior investigator at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). This new research shows that 56.3 percent of asthma cases are attributed to atopy. Atopy is a condition that results from gene-environment interactions and can be measured by a positive skin test to allergens (or allergy causing substances in the environment).

The study, available online today in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, was conducted by scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, both parts of the NIH. The data come from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), a nationally representative sample of the population of the United States.

Sensitization to cat appears to be a strong risk factor for asthma in this study, said Zeldin. Zeldin and his co-authors, however, point out that some research shows that exposure to cats, especially early in life, may be a protective factor. We are not advocating parents get rid of pets, but if you suspect that you or your child might have cat allergies or get asthmatic-like symptoms, you should consult with a doctor about the best course of action for your family, added Zeldin.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 20, 2007, 11:59 PM CT

Improving standard of cows' milk allergy care

Improving standard of cows' milk allergy care
New guidelines on the diagnosis and management of cows milk allergy (CMA), published recently in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, are set to improve the standard of care of infants with CMA, the most common food allergy in children.1 The Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Cows Milk Protein Allergy recommend only extensively hydrolysed (eHF) and amino acid-based formulas (AAF), and the Taskforces recommendations warn against the risks of soy and other mammalian milks, such as sheep and goat, in CMA management.

Drawn up by the independent international Taskforce of allergy experts Act Against Allergy, and supported by an educational grant from SHS International, a leader in the field of specialised clinical nutrition, the guidelines offer clear recommendations on how to diagnose and manage CMA as well as two algorithms one for breast-fed infants and one for formula-fed infants addressing all levels of disease severity.

These are the first practical guidelines on CMA diagnosis and management and are specifically aimed at primary care physicians and general paediatricians, says Professor Yvan Vandenplas, Paediatric Gastroenterologist at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium and Chair of the Act Against Allergy Taskforce. Our recommendations will assist in establishing CMA diagnosis and level of severity, offering clear guidance on the recommended management at each stage, whilst debunking some of the misconceptions over the value of soy and other alternative milk sources in CMA.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Scientists at Yale have brought to light a mechanism that regulates the way an internal organelle, the Golgi apparatus, duplicates as cells prepare to divide, according to a report in Science Express.Graham Warren, professor of cell biology, and colleagues at Yale study Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes Sleeping Sickness. Like a number of parasites, it is exceptionally streamlined and has only one of each internal organelle, making it ideal for studying processes of more complex organisms that have a number of copies in each cell.

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