Recently, researchers found a genetic switch that puts a stop to asthma, which means that there might be a cure soon. The research was done by the University of Southampton, which found that the gene ADAM33 plays a very important role in causing the inflammation of the airways which begins an asthma attack. The gene produces an enzyme which then sticks to the muscles in the airways. However, the enzyme can certainly travel through the airways and around the lungs which would lead to new muscles and blood vessels being produced; this is known as airway remodeling. As a result, breathing can become incredibly difficult, especially if dust or pollen is nearby. Studies in human tissue samples and mice indicate that if the gene is turned off the enzyme is no longer a problem.
“This finding radically alters our understanding of the field, to say the least,” said the associate professor of respiratory medicine, Prof Hans Michel Haitchi. “For years we have thought that airway remodeling is the result of the inflammation caused by an allergic reaction, but our research tells us otherwise.”
In Briton alone, there are 4.5 million people that have asthma, however, the new study indicates that a drug that would stop the ADAM33 gene could prevent attacks. The researchers discovered that on its own, ADAM33 leads to airway remodeling, but does not cause issues. But when researchers added an allergen, such as a dust mite, airway remodeling and allergic airway inflammation increased by a ton. Other research showed that the remodeling of the airways was found in mice which have ADAM33 turned on in utero.
As a result, the gene had then turned off, and the airway remodeling was completely reversed. They also looked into the effects of allergens on asthma in mice that had the ADAM33 gene taken away. Airway remodeling, as well as airway inflammation, rates had decreased by 50 percent and respectively 35 percent in mice.