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Study Reveals New Link to Asthma

Inflammatory immune response plays a key role (Aug. 22)

Researchers at King’s College London have established a link between asthma and an immune response called Th17, previously attributed only to inflammatory conditions, such as multiple sclerosis. The findings were announced on August 22.

Until now, the Th2 response was recognized as the predominant immune response behind asthma symptoms because of its association with allergic inflammation. In a new study, however, researchers have identified the role of Th17, which is coordinated by a specific type of white blood cell that produces lung-damaging molecules.

Asthma is often triggered by an immune response mounted against an inhaled allergen, which leads to inflammation or swelling in the airways. The new research, published in Mucosal Immunology, highlights a significant link between Th17 and airway remodeling in asthma. These structural changes make the lungs susceptible to severe asthma attacks by disrupting the control mechanisms that prevent asthma in healthy individuals.

In addition to generating new information on the causes of severe asthma, the study findings suggest important treatment possibilities, especially for individuals who don’t benefit from conventional steroid therapies.

For more information, visit the King’s College London Web site.

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