Blocking a molecule may help better treat asthma

Sunday, Apr 24, 2016,13:51 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

London | Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have found that blocking a certain signalling molecule may alleviate the symptoms of asthma, a discovery that could lead to improved treatment for sufferers. Researchers found that blocking the signalling molecule Interleukin 1 (IL-1) can reduce symptoms such as mucus production, swelling (edema), and constriction of the airways in the lungs.

The allergic immune response, which triggers the symptoms of asthma, is a complex process, which starts with the over-activation of a certain white blood cell, the allergen-specific helper T cells type 2. We found that by adding a signalling molecule, Interleukin 1 (IL-1) using an experimental model of allergic asthma, the symptoms would worsen dramatically, said Stephan Caucheteux, from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine in the UK.

Therefore by blocking production of IL-1, we could alleviate the symptoms, such as mucus, swelling and constriction, said Caucheteux, who led the research team, that also included Nisan Bhattacharyya and colleagues from the National Institutes of Health in the US.

The finding that IL-1 is involved in regulating the balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory Th2 cells has not only significantly enhanced our basic knowledge on T cell biology, but also provided a potentially effective and novel strategy to treat asthma, said Dr Jeff Zhu, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.