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HATS off to combat asthma
Date:12/4/2007

f the cell and activate messenger RNA. It is these transcription factors which activate the inflammation by causing release of mediators and cytokines.

The activation status of these transcription factors is determined by the balance between two competing groups of enzymes called histone acetyl transferase (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs). In asthma and COPD sufferers the balance is altered so that the HATs are activated and HDACs suppressed with the result that inflammation is switched on. The investigators at the University think that if the balance could be restored by inactivating HATs then the mediators and cytokines will be switched off and inflammation dampened down.

By exploring plant extracts that may reduce the activation of HATs within airway cells, the researchers may isolate compounds that could be used to suppress inflammation in respiratory disease. Any drug successfully synthesised from such compounds could potentially revolutionise the treatment of respiratory disease. There is also the potential to treat other inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Professor Alan Knox, of the Division of Respiratory Medicine at the University, said: The majority of people with asthma have access to reasonably good anti-inflammatory treatments that can keep their conditions under control. But up to 20 per cent of sufferers dont respond well to the treatments currently available. And when it comes to COPD, anti-inflammatory drugs arent very effective.

By tracking the process which triggers the inflammation and then identifying the compounds that inhibit or activate these crucial enzymes, we could put into motion the development of a drug which could have a huge impact on the lives of those suffering from respiratory and other inflammatory diseases.


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Contact: Alan Knox
alan.knox@nottingham.ac.uk
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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