Nav: Home

Scientists identify biological pathway that could explain why asthma therapies fail

April 18, 2016

Scientists from Rutgers University and the University of Pennsylvania have identified a biological pathway that could explain why current asthma therapies often prove ineffective.

The discovery has the potential to lead to new treatments for many of the 25 million people in the U.S., including seven million children, who suffer from the chronic condition.

Researchers Reynold A. Panettieri, inaugural director of the clinical and translational science institute at Rutgers, and Edward E. Morrissey, director of the Penn Center for Pulmonary Biology, determined that when certain genes in mice were inactivated, the mice developed an asthma-like condition, exhibiting airway hyper-responsiveness, or AHR, a classic sign of asthma.

"We found that the airways of these mice did indeed behave like asthmatic human airways," said the researchers in a collaborative study appearing today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Studying the cause of the AHR in the airways of these mice, the researchers next examined the gene patterns of the affected airway's epithelial cells. They found that the molecule neuropeptide, referred to as NPY, was present in more concentrated levels than in control mice. NPY is a signaling molecule and neurotransmitter found abundantly in the nervous system and some other parts of the body.

"NPY's biological actions include stimulating the constriction of blood vessels," Panettieri said. "Previous research has linked variants of its gene to increased asthma risk, but NPY hasn't been known previously to have a direct role in asthma."

The investigators tested whether normal human lung airways exhibit a marked increased in hyper-responsiveness when exposed to NPY.

"These data strongly suggest that NPY can cause airway hyper-responsiveness in human lungs and could be a causative mechanism in human asthma," Morrisey said.

Panettieri also noted that the presence of NPY activates pathways within smooth muscle that provoke contraction and narrowing of the airway passages, a process that defines asthma.

The researchers said the findings suggest that inhibiting NPY activity in people with asthma, perhaps with an inhaled medication, might help the millions of patients who receive little or no relief from current asthma therapies.

Panettieri explained that pharmaceutical companies have already developed compounds that block NPY signaling for other conditions, such as obesity and hypertension.

"Testing whether these NPY inhibitors would help human asthma patients is an exciting next step in developing a new drug therapy for asthma patients," he said.
-end-


Rutgers University

Related Asthma Articles:

Insomnia prevalent in patients with asthma
A team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh has found that insomnia is highly prevalent in adults with asthma and is also associated with worse asthma control, depression and anxiety symptoms and other quality of life and health issues.
Test used to diagnose asthma may not be accurate
A new study urges caution in the use of the mannitol challenge test for asthma in non-clinical settings.
Turning off asthma attacks
Working with human immune cells in the laboratory, Johns Hopkins researchers report they have identified a critical cellular 'off' switch for the inflammatory immune response that contributes to lung-constricting asthma attacks.
Access to asthma meds, plus flu vaccines, keep kids with asthma healthy
Kids need flu shots to prevent asthma flares, and medications available in school to keep 86 percent in class, according to two studies being presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting.
Discovery could lead to better asthma treatment
Scientists have made a discovery that could lead to improved treatment for asthma sufferers.
Do asthma and COPD truly exist?
Defining a patient's symptoms using the historical diagnostic labels of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an outdated approach to understanding an individual's condition, according to experts writing in the European Respiratory Journal today.
Asthma in many adolescents is not an allergic disease
New research indicates that asthma in many adolescents is not likely to involve inflammation of the airways and therefore should not be considered an allergic disease.
First classification of severe asthma
Severe asthma can have a devastating effect on sufferers, affecting their ability to work or go to school and to lead normal lives.
Exploring 'clinical conundrum' of asthma-COPD overlap in nonsmokers with chronic asthma
Researchers may be closer to finding the mechanism responsible for loss of lung elastic recoil and airflow limitation in nonsmokers with chronic asthma.
Asthma app helps control asthma: Alerts allergists when sufferers need assistance
New study in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows how an app directly connecting an allergist and an asthma sufferer can provide necessary intervention when asthma isn't under control.

Related Asthma Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...