Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Researchers hail ‘incredibly exciting’ findings on cause of asthma

  • Comment

Cardiff University scientists claim to have identified for the first time the potential root cause of asthma and an existing drug that offers a new treatment.

Working with colleagues from King’s College London and the US, they looked at the previously unproven role of the calcium sensing receptor (CaSR) in causing asthma.

“For the first time we have found a link between airways inflammation and airways twitchiness in allergic asthma”

Daniela Riccardi

The team used mouse models of asthma and human airway tissue from asthmatic and non-asthmatic people to reach their findings.

Crucially, the authors said their paper highlighted the effectiveness of a class of drugs known as calcilytics in manipulating CaSR to reverse all symptoms associated with asthma.

“Our findings are incredibly exciting,” said principal investigator Professor Daniela Riccardi. “For the first time we have found a link [between] airways inflammation, which can be caused by environmental triggers – such as allergens, cigarette smoke and car fumes – and airways twitchiness in allergic asthma.

“Our paper shows how these triggers release chemicals that activate CaSR in airway tissue and drive asthma symptoms like airway twitchiness, inflammation, and narrowing,” she said.

Using calcilytics, nebulized directly into the lungs, we show that it is possible to deactivate CaSR and prevent all of these symptoms,” she added.

Calcilytics were first developed for the treatment of osteoporosis around 15 years ago but ultimately proved unsuccessful.

Dr Samantha Walker, director of research and policy at Asthma UK, which helped fund the research, said the findings meant that a new treatment for asthma “may be just a few years away”.

“This hugely exciting discovery enables us, for the first time, to tackle the underlying causes of asthma symptoms,” she said, adding that investment was urgently needed for further trials.

“We may be just a few years away from a new treatment for asthma”

Samantha Walker

The researchers also suggest their findings may also have the potential for treating other lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchitis.

They are now seeking funding to determine the efficacy of calcilytic drugs in treating asthmas that are especially difficult to treat, particularly those that are steroid-resistant and exacerbated by flu.

Once funding has been secured, the group aim to be trialling the drugs on humans within two years.

“If we can prove that calcilytics are safe when administered directly to the lung in people, then in five years we could be in a position to treat patients and potentially stop asthma from happening in the first place,” said Professor Riccardi.

The findings have been published in the journal, Science Translational Medicine.

 

Reading this on your phone or tablet?

Nursing Times subscribers can now access the latest news affecting the nursing profession on the go with the Nursing Times app.

Search for Nursing Times on your Apple or Android device and log in using the same details you use on the website.

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.