Scientists from the University of Southampton's School of Medicine will study the role of macrophages (literally 'big-eaters' in Greek) in the lungs of people with asthma and examine how they affect the airway narrowing that can worsen asthma symptoms.
Macrophages are the predominant type of white cells found in the lungs and their function is to clear any particulate matter, bacteria or damaged cells that may be present in the airway.
Asthma is characterised by damage to the cells lining the airway and the act of removing these particular damaged cells can cause the macrophages to switch to working in a negative rather than a positive way. They start releasing chemicals that recruit and activate other inflammatory cells to the lung, which can cause further damage to the airway.
At the same time, the macrophages also release growth factors that can re-model the airways leading to narrowing and increased twitchiness. What is not understood is why macrophages from the lungs of people with asthma release these inflammatory and growth factors, while macrophages from those without asthma do not.
Dr Karl Staples and Professor Ratko Djukanovic, from the University's School of Medicine, will study macrophages isolated from the lungs of people both with and without asthma, to discover what inflammatory and growth factors are released from these cells when they 'eat' damaged cells. They will also be looking at the ways in which the alternative activation status of macrophages in asthma may be inhibited.
The research, funded by the charity Asthma UK, may uncover new signalling mechanisms that can be targeted using drug therapy, leading to better treatments for asthma.
Dr Staples comments: "Current asthma therapies provide symptom relief and disease control and are not cures. As a result, asthmatics are on constant medication which can impact on their lifestyle. However, these treatments do not seem to be effective in those patients with more severe disease."
Professor Djukanovic adds: "By focusing the spotlight on these important inflammatory cells, which despite being the major immune cell present in the lungs, have long been neglected in the study of asthma, we hope to clarify novel drug targets that could lead to more effective treatments."
According to Asthma UK 5.2m people in the UK are currently receiving treatment for asthma, including 1.1m children, and there is a person with asthma in one in five households in the UK.
Glenn Harris | alfa
Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung
High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
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...
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...
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...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.10.2016 | Process Engineering