Research done by scientists at Kings College London and Cardiff University in the UK could be the first steps in developing a cure for asthma. Asthma is a long-term condition that causeswheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Scientists have potentially discovered the root cause of asthma and may be able to treat this. The root cause is a calcium-sensing receptors (CaSR) that are located in airway tissue. The CaSR are triggered by cigarette smoke, car fumes,and allergens. Studies have found that these triggers release chemicals that activate the CaSR. Research has shown that, in asthmatics, the CaSR are greatly affected by changes to the person’s environment.
The research was mostly geared towards people who do not respond to traditional asthma treatments. The standard treatments include steroids, which some patients do not respond to at all. One in twelve asthma patients do not respond to the traditional treatments, but they also account for 90 percent of the health care costs associated with the disease. These patients are easily the most difficult to treat, and with this new research scientists may have found a way to treat these cases.
Now researchers are looking at calcilytics to be the next great asthma medication. Calcilytics were originally developed 15 years ago to be a treatment for osteoporosis, but they were not very effective for patients with the condition, although they were in-effective they proved safe and well tolerated in these trials. This drug has shown that it is possible to deactivate the CaSR and prevent all of the typical symptoms when the drug was nebulized directly into the lungs. Since the drug was already researched and developed researchers will be able to re-purpose the drug and quickly bring it to market. Research into the disease is incredibly underfunded, and this has led to only a hand full of successful treatments being developed in the last 50 years.
This research points to a possible cure for asthma. Scientists are optimistic that a cure can be reached within five years. With all of the research that has already been put into calcilytics, scientists are looking to start doing human testing within two years. Researches are also hopeful that this research will help to treat other chronic lung conditions such as chronic bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This research could help save many lives in the future. Currently, there are no cures for these diseases and it is estimated that they will be the third biggest killers world-wide by 2020.
There are currently over 300 million people who are affected by asthma worldwide and this research can be life changing for many of them. Most people manage the disease with inhalers, and with a potential cure in the works people who have the disease will never need their inhaler again. The inhalers are a just a way to manage the disease however, and it does not prevent the disease. Scientists are predicting that they will have a cure for the disease in five years time. This possible asthma cure could be one of the biggest medical breakthroughs of the 21 century.
By James Dixson
Photo By: net_efekt – Creativecommons Flickr License