Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Pursue New Target for Asthma Treatment

22.11.2006
Cincinnati scientists have found further evidence that certain defensive white cells in the body cause or play a major role in the symptoms experienced by asthma patients.

Their findings, scientists say, could lead to the identification of a new treatment “target” to help the estimated 17 million asthma sufferers in the United States.

The scientists, at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Academic Health Center and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, report their results in the Oct. 31, 2006, edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Working with genetically altered mice, the Cincinnati researchers studied a group of cells called eosinophils. Originally evolved to defend the body against parasite infection, a problem no longer common in the Western world, eosinophils are known to accumulate during allergic responses—and especially in mucous in the lungs of asthma patients.

“Researchers have been looking at the role of eosinophils in asthma for decades,” says research associate and first author Patricia Fulkerson, PhD. “Since people in the Western world don’t have parasites in their guts to the extent they used to, the question is what eosinophils do now?”

“Previous studies linking eosinophils to asthma were done in single models,” Fulkerson explains. “We increased the power of our study by looking at multiple models, and by doing that we show a strong role for eosinophils in mucous production in asthma.”

The researchers, led by Professor Marc Rothenberg, MD, PhD, of UC College of Medicine and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, also showed that eosinophils contribute to the recruitment of the immunity-regulating proteins known as cytokines, a process that allows mucous to accumulate in the lung.

“Previously most scientists looked at one model at a time—eliminating as many eosinophils as possible, inducing each model with asthma, and then watching what happens in an allergic response,” Fulkerson explains. “Using just one model, however, it’s difficult to determine the role of eosinophils versus that model’s own genetic strategy.”

So instead of a single model, Rothenberg, Fulkerson and their colleagues used three different ones. They studied one mouse model in which eosinophils don’t develop from bone marrow, as they should, and two models in which eosinophils remain in the blood stream instead of rallying into the lung tissue to protect against asthma.

They then looked at the characteristics that all three models had in common so they could attribute any alteration in their appearance (or phenotype) to eosinophils, and not to that particular model’s genetics.

In the absence of eosinophils, the researchers report, they found that allergen-induced mucous production dropped in all models, suggesting that “eosinophils play a big role in mucous production in response to an allergen challenge.”

The researchers also report that eosinophils alter the lungs’ “micro environment” by stimulating production of the signaling cytokines. Involved in triggering the body’s immune defense mechanism to take action against infection, cytokines are responsible for almost all the characteristics of asthma.

“If cytokines are produced in the lungs, you’ll end up with asthma,” says Fulkerson. “But we found in eosinophil-free models that the cytokines that together produce almost all the visible symptoms of asthma—known as IL (interleukin) 4 and IL 13—were markedly reduced.

Having shown that eosinophils play an important part in mucous production and airway obstruction in asthma, the researchers’ next goal was to determine how they actually do that.

Examination of mouse lung tissue revealed increased genetic activity associated with the characteristics of asthma: mucous, airway obstruction and hyperactivity.

“We took two of these models and looked at changes in gene expression in the lung caused by eosinophils,” says Fulkerson. “We only picked up the genes that were in common in both models, so we can say the changes were eosinophil dependent versus model dependent.

“So now we have this list of genes that are eosinophil dependent in an experimental animal model and we’re identifying new pathways that have never been attributed to eosinophils before,” Fulkerson adds. “Now we and other researchers will pursue this to learn exactly what eosinophils are doing to those pathways and to see how we can block their contributions to asthma.

Some of these genetic pathways were known to be important in asthma, says Fulkerson, but no one had previously attributed them to eosinophils.

“That’s the exciting part,” she says. “If we can prevent eosinophils from being activated, then perhaps we can develop new targets for treatment. The goal is to find new approaches to asthma, because although we can treat asthma symptoms fairly well, we’re not so good at dealing with the long-term consequences.

“And this doesn’t only involve asthma. There are a lot of other diseases, especially digestive diseases, in which we see high levels of eosinophils that don’t belong there,” Fulkerson says.

Also contributing to the research were Christine Fischetti, Melissa McBride, Lynn Hassman and Simon Hogan, all of Cincinnati Children’s.

David Bracey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uc.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht The genes are not to blame
20.07.2018 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Targeting headaches and tumors with nano-submarines
20.07.2018 | Universitätsmedizin der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>