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Study sheds light on late phase of asthma attacks
Date:8/12/2011

te response is brought about," said Professor Maria Belvisi, from the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London, who led the research. "Our study in animals suggests that anticholinergic drugs might help to alleviate these symptoms, and this is supported by the recent clinical data. We are seeking funding to see if these findings are reproduced in proof of concept clinical studies in asthmatics."

The researchers hypothesised that sensory nerves were involved after observing that anaesthesia prevented the late asthmatic response in mice and rats. They succeeded in blocking the late asthmatic response using drugs that block different aspects of sensory nerve cell function, adding further evidence for this idea.

After establishing that sensory nerves detect the allergen, the researchers tested the effect of tiotropium, an anticholinergic drug that is used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Tiotropium blocks the receptor for acetylcholine, which is released by nerves in the parasympathetic nervous system. Tiotropium also blocked the late asthmatic response, suggesting that parasympathetic nerves cause the airways to constrict.

The study was funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC). Professor Stephen Holgate, MRC funding board chair and an expert on asthma, said: "Unravelling the complex biology of asthma is vitally important, as it is an extremely dangerous condition which exerts lifelong damaging effects. The Medical Research Council is committed to research that opens doors to improving disease resilience, particularly in conditions which attack our body over the long-term. Studies like this are making really important progress and whilst we must always be cautious when taking findings from rodents into humans, these are very interesting and potentially important results."


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Contact: Sam Wong
sam.wong@imperial.ac.uk
44-207-594-2198
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

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