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Leukemia Drug Reverses Asthma Symptoms

New compound could be useful in other inflammatory diseases (Jan. 22)

Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia have developed a new compound, with a surprising result: the drug is effective in the prevention of asthma.

It was originally developed to treat leukemia.

The new research — published in Nature Medicine — focused on the role played by two proteins in the lungs in causing asthma attacks. When these proteins come into contact with the common cold virus and dust mites — the two main asthma triggers — they work together to produce a series of events that cause an attack.

The study showed that the new compound is able to activate a protein that is suppressed during asthma. According to the authors, this could mean that, in the future, physicians would be able to treat the cause of asthma, not just the symptoms.

“The important thing with this compound is that it’s not just alleviating the symptoms, it’s hitting at an underlying disease mechanism,” said lead researcher Dr. Anthony Don.

The development is also significant because asthma attacks are currently treated similarly regardless of whether they are caused by viruses or allergens, but virus-induced effects are much less responsive to current therapies.

The new compound could also be used in the treatment of other inflammatory diseases, the authors say.

Source: University of New South Wales; January 22, 2013.

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