Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Europe wide study to examine causes of asthma


Imperial College London and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich are to take the lead in a Euro 11 million (GBP 8 million) study to examine how genetics and environment influence the development of asthma in Europe.

The GABRIEL project, funded through an EC Framework 6 grant, involves over 150 scientists from 14 European countries and Russia, using the latest research across a variety of disciplines, including genetics, epidemiology and immunology, to identify key factors in the development of asthma bronchiale.

Professor Bill Cookson, from Imperial College London, and co-ordinator of the study, said: “Asthma bronchiale is the major chronic childhood illness in Europe costing the European Community more than Euro three billion each year. Although effective therapies for mild asthma exist, the 10 percent of children with severe disease account for 60 percent of this expense, and even when treatment is effective it is not able to cure the disease.”

Asthma is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental effects, and despite being rare a hundred years ago, it has become increasingly common in developed societies across the world. Scientists believe rural environments are strongly protective against the disease, and increasing urbanisation may be contributing to the rise in the numbers affected.

Professor Cookson added: “We hope this study will help us identify just how genes and the environment cause the development of asthma, identifying both risk and protective factors, with the long-term aim of preventing the illness.”

Professor Erika von Mutius from LMU Munich and co-leader of the project added: “Previous studies have shown the causes of asthma are incredibly diverse with a huge number of genetic and environmental factors all potentially having an impact. Traditionally it has been hard to analyse all the genetic and environmental information but the latest developments in areas such as genomics and bioinformatics now allow us to analyse this huge and complicated amount of data.”

As well as looking at genetic and environmental interactions, GABRIEL will study the molecular basis for environmental factors which can increase the risk of industrial asthma. It will also identify the agents which protect strongly against asthma in rural and farming communities and use genetics, genomics and proteomics to discover novel genetic and microbial factors that cause or protect against asthma.

The project will test genetic factors in over 40,000 subjects with childhood or adult asthma, with data from environmental factors such as tobacco smoke, air pollution, nutrition, allergen exposure and industrial agents.

Professor von Mutius added: “One particular area we will be looking at is the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, a theory which argues a lack of exposure to microbes in early childhood may cause an increased risk of developing asthma and allergies. Earlier work has indicated this may be the case, but we hope the scale of GABRIEL will allow us to properly test the hypothesis and to identify the responsible agents.”

GABRIEL will also develop model systems to investigate the molecular basis of genetic and environmental interactions which influence asthma, and use these model systems to translate novel findings into means of prevention and treatment for asthma.

Professor von Mutius added: “This type of very large-scale study can only be carried out with International co-operation. We are most fortunate that we are able to carry out the GABRIEL project within Europe, with its wide diversity of environments and genes and its shared scientific heritage.”

Professor Cookson added: “GABRIEL would not be possible without European Community funding. It allows us to draw on the best of asthma and genetic research from many countries. The protective effect of a rural childhood indicates that asthma is a potentially preventable illness. We hope that GABRIEL will lead us to a clearer idea of what we may be able to use to prevent the disease from appearing.”

Tony Stephenson | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>