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Drugs 'could target asthma genes'

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An international study has highlighted targets for drug treatment for people who suffer from asthma.

More than 500,000 tests were performed on the genes of 10,000 asthma sufferers and 16,000 non-asthmatics by experts at Imperial College in London and the findings published in an edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The research found several genetic variants which are linked to the condition in which sufferers’ airways become irritated and narrow, making it harder for them to breathe.

While the breakthrough could help scientists develop more effective treatments for asthma, experts warned gene testing could not predict who could develop asthma as environmental factors were also a cause.

Imperial College professor William Cookson, who co-ordinated the research, said: “Asthma is a complex disease in which many different parts of the immune system can become activated.

“Our study now highlights targets for effective asthma therapies and suggests that therapies against these targets will be of use to large numbers of asthmatics in the population.”

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