February 25, 2007

Protein May Stop Asthma Attacks

An interesting article in BBC News caught my eye regarding asthma. Someone very close to me has asthma and I confess to minimal knowledge of asthma except to see that it causes distress and discomfort and anxiety. I cannot imagine personally dealing with difficulty to get the air we need; for people like me, simply breathing in and out is taken for granted. For someone with asthma, their sleep is interrupted and they carry inhalers and hope they don't catch a cold.

Some of the article in BBC News:

UK researchers found there were low levels of proteins which should act as lung cells' first line of defense.

Writing in Nature Medicine, they say boosting levels of these proteins could protect people with asthma from having an attack because of a cold.

The researchers, from Imperial College and the Medical Research Council Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma, tested lung cells from people with and without asthma.

It was found that when the people with asthma were infected with a common cold virus, a rhinovirus, their lung cells produced half the usual levels of a type of interferon - a protein with antiviral properties generated by the immune system. The lower the level of the antiviral protein, the more severe the asthma attack.

Uncovering this mechanism could lead to a new way of treating or preventing asthma attacks.

Inhalers could be used to get extra interferon directly to the lungs to help the immune system fight viral infection. It could be given either when the first symptoms of a cold appear, or even throughout winter as a preventative treatment.

Also in BBC News:

Researchers say they have found a way to predict asthma attacks using a mathematic model.

The findings may help asthmatics control their symptoms more effectively and improve the testing of new drugs.

The Nature paper authors were able to predict the likelihood of an asthma attack occurring over the next month by looking at peak flow readings.

These readings give doctors an idea of how well a person's lungs are working - low readings mean poorer function.

The model the international team used is based on processes known as "chaos" which are applied to complex systems, such as the weather, that despite appearing random, actually are not and are dependent on the interaction of many individual components.
It may be possible to determine the risk of a severe attack of asthma in individual subjects, and to use the information to modify their treatment.

The airways become hypersensitive to even apparently minor environmental factors such as small amounts of pollutants or allergens.

An inhaler which is commonly used by asthmatics for relief can increase the instability of lung function, and increase the likelihood of an acute attack if it is used regularly. Regular use of short-acting bronchodilators, or beta agonists, (four times daily with a long night time drug-free interval) increases the risk of asthma episodes.

According to Dr. Paul Enright at Web MD:
"About half of adults with asthma have allergic triggers, but the vast majority have exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) when they exercise vigorously in cold or dry air."


Lorna said...

I enjoyed reading your blog on this subject. I have asthma as well and strong odors, such as cleaning products, colognes and most perfumes can cause a very bad reaction for me. I know a lot of people never think that the perfume/cologne they are wearing could cause such distress but it can. Your post is helping me spread that word......think of the people around you when you put on that morning squirt or dab and then use half the amount. :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow, Lorna, I did not know about the perfume. Personally, I do not wear perfume or scented lotions because of some allergies I deal with so I just use unscented lotion and no perfume. Do you use inhalers?