Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Rewiring DNA circuitry could help treat asthma

Reprogramming asthma-promoting immune cells in mice diminishes airway damage and inflammation, and could potentially lead to new treatments for people with asthma, researchers have found.
The researchers were able to reprogram the asthma-promoting cells (called Th2 (T-helper 2) cells) after identifying an enzyme that modifies the DNA of these cells. The enzyme could be a target for the development of new treatments for chronic inflammatory diseases, in particular allergic asthma, caused by an excess of Th2 cells.

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researcher Dr Rhys Allan led the research while working at Institut Curie, Paris. The research team from Institut Curie, National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), France, National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), France, and Montpellier Cancer Research Institute published the study today in the journal Nature.

Dr Allan said the research team discovered that the enzyme Suv39h1 could switch off genes to control the function of Th2 cells, which are key to the allergic response.

“Th2 cells have an important function in the immune response, but they also play a significant role in diseases such as allergic asthma,” Dr Allan said. “People with asthma have too many Th2 cells, which produce chemical signals that inflame and damage the upper airways. In this study, we discovered that the Suv39h1 enzyme plays a critical role in programming these asthma-promoting cells, making it a potential target for new therapies to treat asthma.”

More than two million Australians have asthma – approximately one in 10 people – and the disease is even more common among Indigenous Australians. The prevalence of asthma in children in Australia is among the highest in the world.

Dr Allan said the Suv39h1 enzyme was part of the ‘epigenetic circuitry’ of Th2 cells.

“Epigenetics refers to changes or modifications in the DNA that alter how genes are switched on and off, without changing the fundamental DNA sequence. Suv39h1 effectively ‘tags’ the DNA to tell the cells which genes they need to switch on or off to promote an allergic response.”

Using agents that inhibit Suv39h1 could destabilise Th2 cells in people who have an excess of these asthma-promoting cells so they no longer cause inflammation, Dr Allan said.

“We had the idea that erasing these epigenetic tags could ‘short-circuit’ the asthma-promoting Th2 cells and diminish the inflammatory immune response. And, in fact, in mouse models of allergic asthma, blocking this pathway with an inhibitory compound did reduce allergy-related airway damage. Ultimately, our results have identified a potential target for therapeutic intervention in asthma and potentially other Th2-mediated inflammatory diseases, which could improve outcomes for patients,” Dr Allan said.

Dr Allan is continuing to study the epigenetic circuitry of asthma-promoting immune cells in the institute’s Molecular Immunology division, with funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC).

The research was supported by Institut Curie, CNRS and INSERM. Dr Allan was funded by an INSERM-NHMRC exchange fellowship.

View the journal paper at Nature (subscription required).

Download the media release (pdf)

For further information

Liz Williams
Media and Publications Manager
Ph: +61 3 9345 2928
Mob: +61 405 279 095

Liz Williams | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

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...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

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...

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...

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

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>