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Hope for asthma sufferers

15th August 2011

Researchers at Imperial College London have found a treatment which could be potentially be used to treat "late" asthmatic response.

Asthma1

Around 50% of people who have asthma have a delay in symptoms which mean they occur a few hours after they come into contact with allergens.

The team found that they were able to block sensory nerve functions, which prevented late asthmatic reactions in mice and rats.

The team, who published their work in the Thorax journal, said the late asthmatic response occurs because allergens trigger sensory nerves in airways.

Chain reactions then occur, causing the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which narrows airways.

If what happens in mice and rats has the same effect in humans, the team said drugs called anticholinergics could then be employed to block the neurotransmitter in people who suffered delayed attacks.

These type of attacks often occur at night time after a person with asthma has encountered a substance such as grass pollen earlier in the day.

Professor Maria Belvisi, lead researcher from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, said they discovered the key part sensory nerves played as a symptom trigger by accident.

"We wanted to do the research on anaesthetised rats, but we couldn't because the late response had been blocked by anaesthetising them."

"We stumbled upon it. Now we want to work out how allergens trigger these nerves, because we don't know the exact connections." 

 

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