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Researchers find potential target for drug to treat allergic asthma
Date:3/5/2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio An enzyme that helps maintain immune system function by "throwing away" a specific protein has a vital role in controlling symptoms of allergic asthma, new research in mice suggests.

The finding suggests that this enzyme, called Cbl-b, could be a target for drugs used to treat allergic asthma and other autoimmune disorders.

This new study, led by Ohio State University researchers, is the first to link Cbl-b to allergic asthma in an animal model.

The findings parallel results from a 2012 Yale study in humans, which suggested that a mutation in the gene that produces Cbl-b was associated with higher risk for asthma in children. Other studies have suggested that inhibiting Cbl-b activity could reduce tumors and lower chances for cancer to spread.

Based on this assortment of findings, scientists believe Cbl-b could be manipulated in different ways depending on the disorder in question. Its activity could be elevated to keep excessive inflammation in check in people with allergic asthma, or it could be inhibited to treat cancer.

"We believe we have found one of the key molecules that can modulate the immune response," said Jian Zhang, associate professor of microbial infection and immunity at Ohio State and senior author of the study. "We can use this basic knowledge to try to find small molecules that can modify Cbl-b's function and use this to treat human diseases that include autoimmunity, asthma and tumors."

Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma and is triggered by inhaling such allergens as dust mites, pet dander, pollen or mold, leading to inflamed and swollen airways of the lungs, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

The Ohio State study is published in the current issue of the journal Cell Reports.

In this work, mice that are models for allergic asthma were injected with a substance that provoked an allergic response.
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Contact: Jian Zhang
Jian.Zhang@osumc.edu
614-292-9447
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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